State government's 'pumped hydro' plan endorsed by virtually all MPs but concerns about land and environmental impacts emerge during debate

THE Hunter-Central Coast and the Illawarra are set to become formal Renewable Energy Zones after an amended Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill was passed in the NSW Parliament lower house, Labor MPs said last night.

HYDRO POTENTIAL: The heritage-listed Cordeaux Dam, one of four supplying water to Sydney, and included in the NSW government's Pumped Hydro Roadmap of 2018.
 HYDRO POTENTIAL: The heritage-listed Cordeaux Dam, one of four supplying water to Sydney, and included in the NSW government's Pumped Hydro Roadmap of 2018.

The Bill, which underpins the government's Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap unveiled earlier this month, needs to be passed by the upper house to become law. Labor MLC Adam Searle said last night that it was likely to be debated today.

Hunter Labor MPs Tim Crakanthorp (Newcastle) and Jenny Aitchison (Maitland) both spoke yesterday afternoon, raising concerns that the Hunter and Central Coast regions - the state's coal and electricity powerhouses - were ignored in the proposed legislation.

Labor's Granville MP Julia Finn said the pumped hydro aspect was "controversial" and a "huge change in mindset" but she was confident it could be "managed well".

Wagga Wagga Liberal Joe McGirr welcomed the bill but he wanted better protection for landowners from the impacts of big solar farms and the new "priority" transmission lines that must be built to connect them.