22 December 2023

Strategies in place to protect Minnamurra River from hospital building project

| Jen White
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An aerial view of the site of the new Shellharbour Hospital.

An aerial view of the site of the new Shellharbour Hospital. Photos: Health Infrastructure.

The NSW Government has rejected concerns that the new Shellharbour Hospital development will impact the health of the Minnamurra River.

Kiama Council’s latest meeting voted to contact the NSW Health Minister Ryan Park and Environment Minister Penny Sharpe to voice its concerns about the potential adverse impacts of the hospital development on the river and surrounding ecosystems.

Council will ask the ministers to clarify what planning instruments or other legislative arrangements are in place to protect and preserve the biodiversity of the river and surrounding area from the cumulative impacts of nearby urban and industry developments, including the Dunmore Lakes Sand Extraction project.

Hutchison Builders started early preparation work – approved by Shellharbour City Council – on the hospital site on Dunmore Road some time ago.

A spokesperson for Health Infrastructure, which oversees major health developments, said the state significant development application – which is currently being assessed – included a comprehensive 245-page environmental impact statement (EIS) for the main construction work.

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“The application considered the potential impacts of the main construction works, as well as the longer-term mitigation measures for the hospital development,” the spokesperson said.

“Both development applications considered environmental impacts to the surrounding area, as well as outcomes of ongoing consultation with neighbours and the wider community.

“The health and safety of the local community, environment and staff is our highest priority.”

The spokesperson said construction of the hospital would be undertaken in line with all relevant environmental legislation and requirements, including the Environment Protection Agency, Department of Planning and Environment and Shellharbour City Council to ensure any environmental impacts were managed appropriately.

Artist's impression of the new Shellharbour Hospital.

An artist’s impression of the new Shellharbour Hospital.

“A number of strategies have been introduced to manage erosion and sediment,” the spokesperson said.

“These include the installation of sediment basins, sediment fences, catch drains, hay bale filtration and water testing measures.

“Once built, the hospital will include further mitigation measures, such as on-site stormwater detention basins which will act as a natural filtration system.”

The Kiama Council decision noted it “supported development of health facilities in our area that are designed to meet the health needs of our community”.

However, it also acknowledged the Minnamurra Progress Association’s concerns about the potential adverse impact of the Shellharbour Hospital development on the biodiversity of the Minnamurra River and surrounding ecosystems.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward issued a statement after the council meeting, saying he was disappointed that “the councillors responsible for this motion haven’t sought a meeting with me to discuss their concerns”.

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“I have met with NSW Health officials on environmental concerns raised by the Minnamurra Progress Association. I take these concerns seriously,” he said.

“Based on these concerns, I made arrangements for NSW Health officials to meet with the Minnamurra Progress Association directly. This occurred earlier this year.

“Next year, the environmental impact statement for the new Shellharbour Hospital project will be prepared and this document will be released for public comment and feedback. Council is welcome to make a submission.”

The motion to council, raised by Councillor Karen Renkema-Lang, was supported by Councillors Draisma, Keast, Larkins, Renkema-Lang and Rice.

Councillors Brown, Croxford and Steel voted against it.

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