“Every time you sip your coffee in the morning, you must be thankful for Snowy. After all, Australia’s first ever coffee arrived in Cooma”, said Dean Lynch, Snowy 2.0 Relations Manager, ahead of the Snowy Region Construction & Development Conference.
He is referring to the legacy of the Snowy Mountains Scheme – the 25-year, “nation building” engineering project which began in Cooma, 1949.
To bolster its 100,000-strong workforce, the large-scale energy project (Australia’s largest engineering project to date) shipped in thousands of overseas labourers from more than thirty countries, mostly in war-torn Europe.
Each brought their own national traditions and quintessentials – many of which (like coffee) have had a lasting cultural influence on modern-day Australia.
The influx of new residents was also a major catalyst for regional development, with secondary markets all reaping its rewards for many decades to come.
“Snowy 1.0 was a major cultural and economic stimulus. It was a turning point for Australia – it brought life not only to its surrounding region, but to the country as a whole. It made Australia cosmopolitan – it made it what it is today”, Dean continued.
As Relations Manager for Snowy 2.0 – the proposed pumped-hydro extension of the Snowy Mountains Scheme – it is Dean’s job to ensure that many of these social and economic benefits are captured in the second leg of the project; to create a lasting benefit for the region beyond the project itself.
In doing so, he has spent the last few months engaging with local industry and investors, dealing with tenders and conflicts, to ensure the region is adequately prepared for the onslaught of activity that may soon be upon it.
“If the project goes ahead we want to ensure that, in addition to providing the back-up generation needed to support our decarbonised future, we will be creating long lasting employment, investment and lifestyle opportunities for the region.”, Dean said.
“The project will initially create 250 new jobs, locally. This will build up to a maximum workforce of around 1200-1500 and, over the life of the project, more than 5000 workers. The ripple effects of this are expected to be large, as they were forty years ago when the project was born”.
“Some local residents, investors and others stakeholders are concerned about a boom bust scenario”, he added. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that the social and economic impact is not just a flash in the pan and recreates the same legacy of its predecessor”.
Dean said his work to this end has been broad in scope. “We have been consulting with the Chambers and all stakeholders; ensuring the workforce is ready for the project; looking at ways to promote business skills; and ensuring local businesses are compliant”.
When asked about current progress he added: “We are moving towards some very important transitions. At present we are laying the necessary groundwork with hopes that we’ll have our final investment decision in December. If we get the green light that’s when things will move quite quickly and we’ll be looking to have a shovel in the ground by around Christmas time”.
While Dean admits he has some “big shoes to fill”, he is confident that Snowy 2.0 – in addition to providing a much needed piece for the “renewable energy jigsaw” – will also serve as a major catalyst for regional development and expansion.
He will be reveal further details of his work at the forthcoming Snowy Region Construction & Development Conference – to be held 14-15 November 2018 in Cooma.