The federal environment minister has ruled that a giant renewable energy hub in WA is “clearly unacceptable”.

Environment minister Sussan Ley has rejected a proposal for a massive renewable energy export development, sending the proponents of the $50 billion scheme back to the drawing board.

The plan was to build a hub across about 666,030 hectares east of Port Hedland in northern Western Australia, including clearing about 20,000 hectares.

The site would feature a 26 gigawatt-capacity hybrid solar-windfarm that powers 14GW of electrolysers that convert desalinated seawater into green hydrogen. It would then be processed into green ammonia for safe export. 

The massive project also included processing plants, marine infrastructure such as pipelines and an offshore export platform, and a new town for its workers.

The federal government granted the plan major project status last year, while the WA government has green-lit the first stage of the development too.

But Ms Ley has now ruled that the proposal would have unacceptable impacts on matters of national environmental significance set out under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

He spokesperson has claimed that the project would affect the ecological character of a Ramsar-listed Eighty-mile Beach and several migratory species.

“The minister found the marine component of the infrastructure corridor would disrupt tidal movements and processes and this would seriously impact the habitats and life-cycle of the native species dependent upon the wetland and, accordingly, the ecological character of the Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar site itself,” Ms Ley’s spokesperson said.

The consortium behind the planned $50 billion hub says it is attempting to understand the minister’s concerns and engage with her on future project designs.