Government to assess the impact of Osborne’s AUKUS facility expansion

The proposed AUKUS Nuclear Submarine Construction Facility at Osborne will undergo joint State and Federal environmental, social and economic impact assessments.

In a move towards bolstering Australia’s naval capabilities, the proposed AUKUS Nuclear Submarine Construction Facility at Osborne is set to undergo a comprehensive assessment of its environmental, social, and economic implications, jointly conducted by State and Federal authorities.

The expansion plans entail transforming the current facility at the Osborne Naval Shipyard site into a sprawling shipyard capable of housing the construction of nuclear-powered submarines. The envisioned facility is anticipated to be three times larger than the existing site, marking a significant leap in Australia’s maritime infrastructure.

Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI), a Commonwealth Business Enterprise established in 2017, will spearhead the construction endeavor. ANI, the proprietor and developer of the current Osborne Naval Shipyard, envisions the new facility as a cornerstone of Australia’s defense strategy. Currently, the Osborne Naval Shipyard is divided into two sections, with the Collins Class Submarine Fleet occupying the Northern shipyard, and the Southern shipyard dedicated to the construction of Hunter Class Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

ANI’s proactive approach includes seeking an Impact Assessed Development designation under the Planning, Development, and Infrastructure Act 2016. This designation necessitates the preparation of an exhaustive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the project’s ramifications thoroughly. The EIS will undergo public scrutiny, ensuring transparency and inclusivity in the decision-making process.

Minister for Planning, Nick Champion, will ultimately adjudicate on the proposal under the Act.

“The proposed facility represents one of the most significant industrial undertakings in the State’s history,” Nick said.

“The proposal involves a range of environmental, social and economic impacts that requires careful and detailed assessment.

“The new shipyard will be subject to the most rigorous assessments in the country which is crucially important when it will be the home of Australia’s nuclear submarine program.”

Situated adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas such as the Mutton Cove Conservation Reserve and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, the proposed construction site calls for a delicate assessment of its ecological footprint. The investigation area encompasses the coastal waterways surrounding the Lefevre Peninsula, including the Port River entrance. Additionally, the EIS will examine social and economic implications, recognising the multifaceted impact of such a development.

Osborne’s selection as the nucleus for Australia’s nuclear submarine program follows the landmark AUKUS agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom. The strategic significance of this decision is underscored by the anticipated employment surge, with up to 4,000 workers expected to be engaged in designing and building the requisite infrastructure. Moreover, the construction of nuclear-powered submarines is projected to create an additional 4,000 to 5,000 direct jobs, injecting vitality into the local economy.

Looking ahead, the investment in Australia’s industry and workforce is poised to exceed $6 billion over the forward estimates, with a substantial portion earmarked for South Australian infrastructure. This infusion of capital underscores the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and economic resilience in the region.

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