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State Significant Infrastructure


Belmont Drought Response Desalination Plant

Lake Macquarie City

Current Status: Determination

Interact with the stages for their names

  1. SEARs
  2. Prepare EIS
  3. Exhibition
  4. Collate Submissions
  5. Response to Submissions
  6. Assessment
  7. Recommendation
  8. Determination

Construction and operation of a temporary desalination plant including: seawater intake infrastructure; desalination units; brine discharge via existing ocean outfall; electricity/water supply; ancillary works.

Attachments & Resources

Notice of Exhibition (1)

Notice of Exhibition_10092020_084255

Application (1)

SEARS request

SEARs (3)

SEARs Agency Comments
revised SEARs

EIS (18)

18 EIS Appendix Q - Visual
17 EIS Appendix P - Noise and Vibration
16 EIS Appendix O - Traffic
15 EIS Appendix N - Social
14 EIS Appendix M - Coastal Processes
13 EIS Appendix L - Brine Modelling
12 EIS Appendix K - Marine
11 EIS Appendix J - LMCC Comments
10 EIS Appendix I - Stakeholder Material
9 EIS Appendix H - Contamination
8 EIS Appendix G - ACHAR - Redacted
7 EIS Appendix F - HIA
6 EIS Appendix E - BDAR
5 EIS Appendix D - Groundwater Assessment
4 EIS Appendix C - DCP Requirements
3 EIS Appendix B - Concept Design Drawings
2 EIS Appendix A - SEARs
1 EIS Main Report

Response to Submissions (4)

Request RTS_19102020_051054
Request RTS_23122019_091944
Belmont Desalination Plant DSI
Belmont Desalination Plant - Supplementary RTS

Agency Advice (7)

SF2017.266551 - CR2020.004458 SSI-8896
TfNSW Response to RTS and Amendment Report
Belmont Desalination SSI 8896 HCNSW
HNSW - Amendment - SSI 8896 - 18 Sept 2020
BCD Letter - RTS - SSI 8896 - Sep 2020
201002 signed HNE RTS_PIR
LMCC Staff response to Belmont Desal Plant ~ 05245

Amendments (19)

Report - 1 BDRDP AR & RtS
Report - 2 BDRDP A Submissions Summary
Report - 3 BDRDP B Register of Submitters
Report - 4 BDRDP C Stakeholder Consultation
Report - 5 BDRDP D Project Description
Report - 6 BDRDP E Mitigation Measures
Report - 7 BDRDP F Concept Design Drawings
Report - 8 BDRDP G Contamination Assessment
Report - 9 BDRDP H Mine Subsidence
Report - 10 BDRDP I Stormwater
Report - 11 BDRDP J Groundwater
Report - 12 BDRDP K Biodiversity
Report - 13 BDRDP L Marine
Report - 14 BDRDP M Brine Modelling
Report - 15 BDRDP N Coastal Processes
Report - 16 BDRDP O ACHAR (redacted)
Report - 17 BDRDP P Traffic
Report - 18 BDRDP Q Noise
Report - 19 BDRDP R Visual

Additional Information (5)

RFI Request for Additional Information_20012021_095903
SSI Amendment Letter - SSI 8896
Register - DPIE RFI 20012021_095903
Letter - HWC Response to DPIE RFI 03022021
HWC letter - Response to RFI - 21 July 2021

Determination (3)

Signed Assessment Report
Signed Approval
Notice of Decision

Approved Documents

There are no post approval documents available

Note: Only documents approved by the Department after November 2019 will be published above. Any documents approved before this time can be viewed on the Applicant's website.


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There are no enforcements for this project.


There are no inspections for this project.

Note: Only enforcements and inspections undertaken by the Department from March 2020 will be shown above.


Showing 1 - 20 of 32 submissions
Name Withheld
DUNGOG , New South Wales
I am opposed to the Belmont Drought Response Desalination Plant because it will not provide enough potable water for the whole region. I think that the enormous expense to get a temporary plant going and maintained for the benefit of few is not the best solution for the Hunter.
The Lower Hunter needs a new bulk water supply and I think it should be at Tillegra, near Dungog. This would service the whole region and provide water security for at least 50 years. Chichester Dam is almost 100 years old and quite small in comparison. It is passed its use by date with maintenance issues and ongoing problems. We also have PFAS contamination at Tomago Sandbeds which has been spreading.
There has been exponential residential growth with new subdivisions and towns in the region. Our population needs new infrastructure that can service the whole region. Tillegra could also have a hydro plant that could potentially supply power to 500 homes.
Enormous financial benefits in the way of tourism to surrounding towns would flow on .
Julie Castles
CardiffHeights , New South Wales
I object to this project on the grounds that it is inappropriate to situate a desalination plant in this sensitive area. Local people fought for many years to preserve these wetlands, and the community needs to be satisfied that this project is absolutely necessary before this is even considered. Even if the desalination plant was demonstrated to be essential, it should not be built on these wetlands.
I further object to this project on the grounds that the time allowed for submissions is totally inadequate for us to consider the rationale presented for this project. I would suggest that a minimum of one year would be required for proper community consultation and debate in regard to this project. I should also point out that we have never been on level 3 water restrictions, and I believe that other water conservation methods should be employed before a desalination plant is considered.
Scott Fairbairn
CORLETTE , New South Wales
Do it!!!! Future proof our water supply. Stop putting bandaids on our problems, fix it once and for all.
Department of Primary Industries
The Department of Primary Industries has reviewed the proposal has no objections as the impacts are expected to be minimal.
Mike Blayney
ELEEBANA , New South Wales
Please see attachment
Crown Lands
NEWCASTLE , New South Wales
See attached
anna kearney
WANGI WANGI , New South Wales
Objections on the following grounds: That the project is not the most economical option and will add to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions unnecessary through high energy use from the grid and is not the most efficient option for non-rain fresh water harvesting nor the least impact on the environment. I also have to question the proposed location.
- FINANCIAL COSTS - There is no direct comparisons of options in regard to initial construction costs and ongoing maintenance and energy costs. These will be additional costs on top of existing costs that will ultimately be imposed and a burden to local ratepayers. -Initial projected costs are 90 million plus annual maintenance costs even when not operational and only triggered when dam levels are at 15% guesstimated to occur by the end of construction.and at which there would be additional unnecessary high energy cost to operate the plant without guarantee of green power purchase or provision of additional green energy construction to power this plant. Energy use is estimated at 35000kWh pA to produce potable water from sea water at 15ML pd using approximately 100MWh. These figures does not accurately indicate the volume of potable water that would be produced for the amount of energy necessary to be expended nor does the EIS reflect the additional cost or final cost to ratepayers per year and number of years when and if the plant is switched on. Decommissioning of the plant at >50% dam capacity is an ineffective use of a water facility. The Cost of the current proposal far out ways the Benefits. You only have to make a comparison with the Sydney desalination plant. For this reason other lesser costly alternatives should be implemented.
LACK OF DETAILED COMPARISONS - The EIS does not adequately demonstrate comparisons with other cheaper and more energy efficient options but briefly mentions 6 planning portfolios that were assessed with the current proposal deemed the cheapest without any detailed comparisons to prove this. The reasoning given for dismissing alternatives are inadequate. For instance the reasoning for not considering solar energy and instead opting to power the plant from AUSGRID main power. The reasoning for not considering more efficient alternatives as well as having less environmental (particular greenhouse gas emissions) is also completely inadequate in the absence of these alternatives as well as lack of cost comparisons.
BETTER ALTERNATIVES - Despite the perception that the public does not favour alternatives that are cheaper,produces fewer greenhouse gasses by being less energy intensive and have a lessor impact on the environment there are better alternatives. The current proposed site is located in close proximity to Hunter Water sewage treatment works. In a world of increased recycling and re-use it is imperative that Hunter Water and all its customers endeavour to capture as much storm water on site or into localised dams for reuse as possible. Household water tanks are inexpensive. All waste water is captured at the existing treatment works before it is disposed of into the ocean. This waste water is a potential resource that needs to be captured, treated and re-used just as is storm water which is potable water virtually going down the drain. The cost of filtration and treatment would be very little with a guaranteed supply with reuse in comparison to the current proposal. The current location near wetlands could also act as a natural filter and would not impact the environment. In fact filtered nutrients would enhance the ecology of the wetlands and would also provide important habitat for migratory birds in times of drought.
LOCALITY FOR PROPOSED DESALINATION PLANT - The current site has been chosen due to its proximity to the ocean because of its nature being a desalination plant and for the obvious reason Hunter Water already owns the land. The cost of such a plant is prohibitive with this location being in a flood zone. The cost is also likely to exceed initial estimates as is with many public infrastructure proposals. Flooding due to sea level rise is likely to become more prevelent and more severe with the global warming and climate change. Storms are also predicted to become more prevalent and severe including storm surges and higher king tides that have already been noted in the adjacent largest coastal lake of Lake Macquarie that connects directly to the existing water holding area and wetland in the immediate facility of the proposed desalination plant. Such a severe storm was already responsible to severe damage to the Sydney desalination plant that caused delays in operation and also added to costs.
IN CLOSING- This desalination should not proceed due to the negative Cost to Benefit especially when there are far cheaper and more environmental friendly alternatives such as storm water and waste water harvesting. The high energy cost and energy source of this proposal is unsuitable when there is an existing climate crises globally. It is irresponsible of any private or government entity to construct any desalination plant that is not powered by other means of power other than from coal fired powered stations. Hunter Water needs to weigh up the risk of the current location being the most suitable given it is in a flood zone and increased risk of sea level rise and severe storm events as well as the issue during construction of groundwater infiltration and the need for de-watering and given that groundwater in itself is also a resource.
The Hunter Bayswater Recycling Water Scheme
MOUNT VIEW , New South Wales
Please find enclosed in the attachment a submission for a water proposal as a solution for "The Lower Hunter Water Plan".
Also my objections to the proposed 15 ML/day Emergency Desalination Plant at Belmont.
Looking forward to your reply
Joseph Taranto
Universal Water Recycling
Name Withheld
Caves Beach , New South Wales
You obviously don't want to hear from the public. If you did it would not be so difficult to create an account on your site.
Go back to the Tillegra dam proposal.
I fail to see any logic in any proposal to slug ratepayers with a bill for millions of dollars to maintain a plant which may operate for 5 or 10% of the time. I actually can't help thinking you are playing us for suckers once again. Some of this plant couldn't be easily converted to a water recycling plant could it?
Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance
BLACKALLS PARK , New South Wales
On behalf of the Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance Inc. (the Alliance), I, Robyn Charlton, Chair, am making this submission to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in response to the proposed Hunter Water Drought Response Desalination Plant at Belmont.
Ross Kelly
I would like to submit the attached comments on the Belmont drought Response Desalination Plant EIS for consideration
Ross Kelly
Name Withheld
To Whom It May Concern
I appreciate the need for Hunter Water Corporation (HWC) to begin the approval process for a temporary desalination plant, should, it be required if water storage levels drop to critically low levels.
With anticipated population growth in the Lower Hunter and current water-use demands, I encourage HWC to consider both the supply and demand side of the water balance equation. I have concerns about the current proposal and urge HWC and other stakeholders including NSW State Government to make every effort to encourage lower water use by both residents, and industry.

My concerns in relation to the construction and running of a desalination plant at Belmont include:
the close proximity of the proposed plant to the Belmont Coastal Wetlands and a number of Endangered Ecological Communities;
the accumulative effect of the constant adding of brine back into the ocean, together with byproducts of other desalination plants across Australia and further afield;
the effects of on site dewatering during construction;
the lack of statement regarding the impacts of dewatering activity, across construction and/or operation;
the lack of statement regarding where this ground water will ultimately go;
increased carbon emissions resulting from construction and operational aspects and the current low green energy target contemplated;
consideration of the potential for impacts of sea level rise on the facility: the proposed plant is a considerable investment to protect from rising sea levels, and
the potential for dune erosion and disturbance of coastal sand biome at the intake point.

I would like to see more research available on:
the potential for sand contamination at the intake point: the surrounding area has a mixed past with asbestos , and other hazardous waste dumped and buried over time;
the potential for micro plastics to be transported through the seawater intake.

I feel it is imperative to take a wider reaching approach to decrease water demand. This would require HWC to work more closely with residents, Councils, businesses, industry and mining operations to ensure greater uptake to protect our water supply including:
The use of greywater, including an educational campaign, with examples of grey water use, disseminated to the wider community;
rainwater harvesting and actions to make this more widespread;
stormwater harvesting methods;
water recycling;
an increased media campaign to change water use behaviour among residents to maximise our remaining water storages and
assistance to low income customers to repair leaks etc.

Finally, if the proposed plant does proceed, I strongly encourage Hunter Water Corporation increase the percentage of green power to a minimum of 10%.

Thank you
Please see attached response.
NSW Health
Wallsend , New South Wales
Please see attached
NEWCASTLE , New South Wales
Hi Rebecca,

Please see attached BCD comments on the Belmont drought response desalination plant.

Kind regards,
Lake Macquarie City Council
SPEERS POINT , New South Wales
See attached.
Name Withheld
REDHEAD , New South Wales
Transport for NSW
NEWCASTLE , New South Wales
See attached
DPI Fisheries
Taylors Beachs , New South Wales
DPI Fisheries is responsible for ensuring that fish stocks are conserved and that there is no net loss of key fish habitats upon which they depend. To achieve this, DPI Fisheries ensures that developments comply with the requirements of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (FM Act) (namely the aquatic habitat protection and threatened species conservation provisions in Parts 7 and 7A of the Act, respectively), and the associated Policy and Guidelines for Fish Habitat Conservation and Management (2013). DPI Fisheries is also responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal cultural fishing, aquaculture, Marine Parks and Aquatic Reserves within NSW.

The Department has reviewed the Response to Submissions and has no changes to the Departments original position.
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Crown Lands
Newcastle , New South Wales

Crown Lands has the following comments for this proposal:-

The existing ocean outfall pipe occupies Crown land between the mean high water mark and a position approximately 1.5 km offshore. The PEA does not contain information relating to an existing authorisation to occupy this Crown land under the Crown Land Management Act 2016, or a legislative exemption, for the outfall pipe. The Department has no record of an easement or other approval for the ocean outfall pipe.

It is noted that Hunter Water has requested the closure and purchase of the affected Crown road.


Project Details

Application Number
Assessment Type
State Significant Infrastructure
Development Type
Water supply & management
Local Government Areas
Lake Macquarie City
Determination Date

Contact Planner

Rebecca Sommer