Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Government has granted approval for the 660MW Hunter Power Project in Hunter Valley.

Australian energy company Snowy Hydro will develop the A$600m ($425m) gas-fired power plant, which will be located in the Kurri Kurri region.

The project is expected to create 600 direct jobs at the peak of its construction phase, as well as 1,200 indirect jobs across NSW.

Australia Environment Minister Sussan Ley said: “This thorough bilateral assessment with NSW has paved the way for the development and operation of this new critical infrastructure in a way that sensitively manages, protects and rehabilitates the environment.”

The Hunter Power Project is due to be built by next year and is expected to ensure a reliable supply of power to the state following the closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station next year.

It is also expected to support some key local businesses, including the operations of the Tomago Aluminium Smelter.

Opposing the project’s approval, Climate Council spokeswoman Dr Madeline Taylor said that the power plant ‘simply isn’t needed’, noting that gas power stations produced only 1.3% of NSW’s power late last year.

Taylor said: “Energy analysts and economists agree it will raise electricity prices for residents and businesses, not lower them.

“As renewable energy and storage technologies become cheaper by the day, this short-sighted investment in a new gas-fired power station, built with taxpayer money, makes no sense from an energy or economic perspective, and will likely end up as a stranded asset.”

In November 2020, the NSW government published its Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, which aims to attract A$32bn of private investment in the state’s renewable energy and pumped hydro zones.

The roadmap covers a 20-year period and is expected to create a total of around 9,000 jobs by 2030.