After years of preparation work, the final construction Environmental and Safeguard Management Plan (C-ESMP) for the Tina River Hydropower Development Project (TRHDP) has been approved last month. The Project’s holding company Tina Hydro Ltd. (THL) and its construction partner Hyundai Engineering Company (HEC), along with Lenders and Solomon Island Government officials agreed on the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) which is required for main construction works relating to the dam and power station, as a part of the lenders mission in Honiara during the week of 22nd-26th May 2023
The much-anticipated SBD1.5 billion renewable energy project has endured a long and challenging preparatory and planning phase to make certain the long-term success and durability of the development. The ESMP’s, which consist of 31 detailed plans including the Biodiversity Management Plan, are required to ensure appropriate measures are in place to minimise and mitigate adverse impacts on people and the environment.
The suite of plans dealing directly with biodiversity aspects of the project, namely the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP), the Terrestrial Offset Management Strategy (T-OMAS) and the Aquatic Offset Management Strategy (A-OMAS) are amongst the most complex ESMPs to be completed on the project and required input from Stantec, a highly specialised consultancy firm. In late January, the final drafts were presented when members of the Project office, Permanent Secretaries of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE), Forestry and Research and Environment Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), THL, HEC and Concessional Finance Partners (CFPs) travelled to Sydney, Australia.
MMERE Permanent Secretary Chris Vehe, said his time in Sydney should assure Solomon Islanders that their government is always keen to be involved with the details to help progress the project forward. “Working towards meeting the safeguard requirements for this project has been long and difficult but nevertheless, an essential process. We have learnt a lot during this time which has strengthen our government’s commitment to not only build a renewable energy project, but a sustainable and durable infrastructure that will add value to our land, not take away from it.”
The Sydney delegation also noted that SIG will may require additional support and funding to ensure the execution of the complex biodiversity management plan can be carried out. Critical components such as the establishment of a management plan for the Tina catchment, form part of the plans and will require experienced people to work on its execution. “Now the plans are in place and agreed to, the hard work begins, “says the Permanent Secretary. “The government will begin the process of actioning these plans, some of which will be a huge undertaking, like establishing protected areas in the Tina catchment. SIG sees the recent MOU between MMERE and MECDM which denies logging in the catchment as being able to assist with this work and a great first step towards full, legal protection of the upper catchment area.”
At present, work on the access roads to the dam site and power station are progressing in preparation for the main construction works to commence mid 2023. All safeguard documents are available for the public to view on the Project website at www.tina-hydro.com.