The Riverina’s housing squeeze has been a hot topic of debate, with the situation set to be compounded by intersecting major infrastructure projects that will require hundreds of workers.
EnergyConnect, Inland Rail and a billion-dollar upgrade of the Riverina’s defence facilities are all on the way and, with rental availability at record lows, companies are taking matters into their own hands.
Energy giant Transgrid and Elecnor Australia are building the 700-kilometre NSW section of the EnergyConnect project and have opened a new self-contained camp at Lockhart that will accommodate more than 200 workers.
EnergyConnect is the largest electricity transmission project underway in the country and will link NSW, South Australia and Victoria and connect to more renewable sources.
“Camps like this one at Lockhart allow us to bring workers into local communities without taking up housing local families may need,” explained Transgrid executive general manager of major projects Gordon Taylor.
“It’s a simple way we can help ease pressure on the rental market and accommodation providers.”
The 20-hectare camp at Lockhart will support the eastern section of the project between Wagga Wagga and Buronga and is one of six along the EnergyConnect route, which will house more than 1300 workers for the mega-project.
“It’s exciting to see the first workers moving into this latest purpose-built facility,” Mr Taylor said.
“Providing quality accommodation is a key step in progressing construction as it nears Wagga Wagga and ensures people are safe and comfortable while working away from home.”
Elecnor Australia project director Samuel Basanta Lopez said it was important to provide a quality camp close to the job.
“Our camp strategy is focused predominantly on ensuring our worker health and safety,” he said.
“The distances our employees must travel to our worksites is an important factor in determining our camp locations to manage fatigue.”
Workers each have their own space with an ensuite bathroom, fridge, TV and air conditioning, and share facilities such as a dining mess hall, gym and recreation rooms, and office spaces.
James Bell from the Gold Coast has recently settled into the camp and gave it the thumbs-up.
“I used to be a scaffolder, so I’ve been in a lot of camps, but this one is right up there with the best of them,” he said.
“The food is definitely a highlight, it’s top-notch, and they’re looking after us really well.”
More camps are on the way for Dinawan outside Coleambally, Hay, and Tarcutta.