Media release – Hydro Tasmania, 4 June 2024

EPBC Green Light – Edgar Dam Upgrades

The Federal Government has given the green light for Hydro Tasmania to start upgrades to Edgar Dam, in Tasmania’s southwest.

The office of Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek this week confirmed the works will not have significant impact on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) or other matters of national environmental significance provided that the action is undertaken in the particular manner set out in the decision.

The decision follows consideration of the works under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The federal Department of Climate Change, the Environment, Energy and Water (DCCEEW) determined the works ‘not a controlled action – particular manner’, accepting Hydro Tasmania’s specific environmental controls and deeming no further assessment, or conditions are necessary.

Hydro Tasmania Assets and Infrastructure Executive General Manager Jesse Clark said the decision paves the way for works to commence later this year.

“It’s great to get to this point after several years of design, planning, approvals and community consultation,” Mr Clark said.

“We’ll now conduct a tender process for specialist construction services to deliver the works over two summers.”

Environmental controls put forward by Hydro Tasmania include:

– Restricting truck movements within the TWWHA to daylight hours to minimise impacts to wildlife

– Washing vehicles thoroughly before entering and exiting the site

– Importing materials from a commercially accredited quarry

– Keeping the site footprint and vegetation clearing to a minimum

Edgar Dam is adjacent to the Lake Edgar Fault Line, which was thought to be inactive at the time of construction. After extensive investigation, experts determined the fault could not be considered inactive.

Upgrade works will include new downstream gravel filters and rock fill will support the existing dam. This will improve seismic resistance of the dam, in the extremely unlikely event of a major earthquake, in line with national guidelines.

The Edgar Dam sits at the southern end of the Gordon-Pedder Hydro Scheme, which provides critical multi-seasonal storage and 13 per cent of Tasmania’s renewable power.

For more information about the project go to

Media release – Bob Brown Foundation, 4 June 2024

Plibersek Decides to Keep Lake Pedder Drowned

‘In another in her series of bad environmental decisions, Minister Plibersek has conceded to the Rockliff Government proposal to strengthen the Edgar Dam without considering the alternative of decommissioning it and restoring Lake Pedder,’ Christine Milne, Convenor of Lake Pedder Restoration Inc said today.

‘It beggars belief that a Federal Minister charged with protecting the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, a place of outstanding universal value, would just tick off on Hydro Tasmania’s plan without conducting a full Environmental Assessment.’

‘We will not take this lying down and will immediately seek her reasons and will review what action may be taken.’

‘On the Tasmanian front with the state in such a perilous financial state, allocating $100 million+  to ‘high risk’ dams, strengthening the Edgar Dam now,  and patching up the Scotts Peak Dam later is utter madness for the sake of 57 MW which can so easily be replaced.’

‘If Premier Rockliff is so convinced that we need the 57MW of energy from the Serpentine impoundment then building a floating solar plant on Lake Gordon is a far more time and cost efficient alternative. It is a win win. It provides energy and allows the impoundment dams to be decommissioned.’

‘Infrastructure projects notoriously have cost blow outs and Tasmanians can ill afford this backward thinking. Reducing the risk to downstream communities is not as good as removing the risk completely.’

I invite Tasmanians to join us in protesting this appalling Albanese Government decision.

Twitter comment – Tabatha Badger, Greens MHA for Lyons, 4 June 2024

— untitled —

All projects in the TWWHA must be thoroughly assessed w proper process. Minister Plibersek’s decision not to make the major Edgar Dam works an EPBC controlled action is neglectful to say the very least. Esp as only half of the project has been referred. & who is paying?

Background; Edgar & Scott’s Peak dams in the TWWHA are built on/adjacent to the active Edgar Fault line, so are ‘high risk’. Proposed works will reconstruct/strengthen dams to fail slower under seismic activity. Both remain on the fault line tho, & only Edgar was EPBC referred.

Citizen scientists found numerous threatened & endangered species on the Edgar site, inc the Tas masked owl, large bird orchid, devils & quolls. If these are easily discoverable by volunteers, what other important biodiversity would a proper controlled action assessment find?

There were numerous concerns raised by the EPBC referral document. Inc claims the Huon V C knew of the fault risks, but in a meeting 2 days after EPBC comments opened, HVC asked questions re the risks 🤷🏼‍♀️ & who will pay for these works? Tasmania? The Fed Gov?

Edgar & SP must be EPBC controlled actions, as they impact the TWWHA & there are project alternatives which should also be assessed. The TWWHA is of Outstanding Universal Value, we are obligated to properly manage it & activity within. For people today & future generations

And then there are the complexities of Lake Pedder! That is too long for a tweet so here is a film explaining is present scenario:

Editor’s note: for an interesting discussion of the background and various engineering issues, please see this valuable Twitter thread. Unfortunately it is very difficult to reproduce here.