NSW Wild Dog Fence Extension project

September 2021

Background

The NSW Government has committed to extending the NSW Border Wild Dog Fence (commonly known as the dog fence) by 742 km which it will fund at an estimated cost of $37.5 million. The commitment comes following a feasibility study (first published January 2019) that was commissioned by the Border Fence Maintenance Board and funded by Local Land Services.

The study determined there would be considerable benefits to be had by extending the fence by 420 km in the east adjacent to Mungindi and 322 km in the south to just short of the Murray River. The fence is currently approximately 583 km in length and erected along parts of the NSW/Queensland border and NSW/South Australian border.

Work underway

A large-scale and complex infrastructure project in some of the most remote and isolated areas in Australia, the NSW Wild Dog Fence Extension project has made substantial progress despite the considerable challenges it has faced, none more so than the impacts from COVID-19. The restrictions in place for COVID-19, not just in NSW but across borders in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria as well as Federal Government restrictions, have impacted on many aspects of the project. Despite these and other challenges, the project team are continuing to progress the project and adapt to new ways of working, with measures put in place to ensure the safety of landholders, the community and staff involved in the project.

Mapping and fence design

The mapping of the proposed alignment along the NSW and South Australia border, and the NSW and Queensland border, has been completed, with local landholders and stakeholders providing valuable input around the finer details such as end points, waterways and how to manage rail and road crossings.  For the NSW/South Australian alignment, the extended fence will start south of Broughams Gate, approximately 110 km north of Broken Hill, and finish near the Murray River. For the NSW/Queensland alignment, the extended fence will start at Hungerford and finish at Mungindi.

The design of the fence has been developed in consultation with the Border Fence Maintenance Board. The fence will be made from 15/150/15 exclusion wire and be 1800 mm high with 900 mm plastic coated chain wire buried to 300 mm deep and overlapping the 15/150/15 by 300 mm. Heavy duty steel posts will be placed every five metres with a drill rod strainer post every 250 metres. Some sections of the fence will be custom designed to suit the terrain and may be reviewed following the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The project team will work and engage with landholders and stakeholders to deal with existing fences and requests for additional gates and so forth.

Assessments and approvals

The assessments that are required for this project are being carried out along a narrow corridor of the proposed fence alignment (including access tracks). The project team have engaged the services of three qualified consultants to carry out the assessments for biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage along the proposed alignment, with the assessments for Aboriginal cultural heritage also involving Recognised Aboriginal Parties and local Traditional Owners. Desktop analysis and field assessments commenced in 2020, are continuing in 2021 and will extend into 2022.

The project is undertaking a phased approach to approvals and construction for the extended fence along the NSW and Queensland alignment. As approvals are received, construction will commence as work continues on the approvals for other sections of the build. Work is continuing on the EIS for the NSW and South Australian alignment. The EIS will be lodged with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment and put on public exhibition for further commence. It is important to note that construction will not commence until the required assessments and approvals have been completed and received.

Procurement and construction

The NSW Government is committed to involving as many local and regional NSW businesses in this project as possible, something that has been reflected in the tenders run to date for the project. The NSW Government has run three successful tenders for the project which were for the manufacture and supply of fence materials, the materials and construction of a 15-kilometre priority pilot site, and to undertake the construction of the 742-kilometre extension. The combined value of these tenders was around $30 million. The project team are continuing to work with the successful businesses regarding the manufacture and supply of fence materials, and construction of the extended fence, prior to construction commencing.

In the second half of 2020, a 15-kilometre priority pilot site was constructed which involved replacing the existing wild dog fence near Hungerford. This allowed the project team to test and evaluate its systems prior to the main phase of construction commencing. Highlighting the NSW Government’s commitment to involving local businesses, all the materials for the pilot site were sourced from a business in Bourke while a number of Aboriginal contractors from Enngonia worked on the fence construction.

While COVID-19 and other issues are impacting on the next phase of construction commencing, the project team is working through the approvals process as efficiently as possible, and is looking forward to the main phases of construction commencing. The project team is committed to delivering a product that will be everlasting and a game-changer for Western NSW, increasing productivity for farmers, helping to protect native animals including threatened species, and giving an extra level of defence against biosecurity threats coming in over the border.

Resource library and further information

A number of resources have been developed to inform stakeholders of the project, answer some general questions and keep them updated as it progresses.

If you’d like further on the information above or project more generally, contact the project team on the details provided. Project stakeholders will continue to be provided the latest information, updates and opportunities to be involved through a range of communication channels. To receive these updates, send the project team an email to subscribe.

Phone: (02) 5852 1215 (Mon-Fri during business hours)
Email: wilddogfence@scs.nsw.gov.au
Website: www.lls.nsw.gov.au/WDF

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