Changes to the proposed corridor for a high-voltage transmission line in southern New South Wales has brought relief for some farmers but heartache for others.
- The footprint for the project has been reduced from 500km to 350km
- TransGrid says it will prioritise consultation with landholders affected by the changes
- The proposed route is being refined with an environmental impact statement expected next year
TransGrid has refined the footprint for the HumeLink project that will connect the $5 billion expanded Snowy Hydro project to the grid.
The routes from Book Book to Gobarralong and from Maragle to Yaven Creek have been dropped.
There is, however, a new corridor through the Gilmore Valley and a new option north of Tumut.
Project director Tim Edwards said the changes had reduced the footprint from 500km to 360km.
“The circuit going from single to double circuit means the requirement for the footprint and the number of towers reduces, and when that happens you end up having a smaller impacted area,” he said.
Melody McMeekin from the Kyeamba Valley Concerned Landholders Group said she was relieved her farm was no longer included.
“But we are still aware that there are some landholders that are still impacted, so there’s still more to be done.
“A lot of people have said to me, what would have happened if you hadn’t put as much time and effort into it, and I said we’d have machinery here clearing and putting the towers up; there’d be no two ways about that.”
Concern about impact on farmland
While there is a sense of relief in some areas, new areas of farmland near Tumut are now being considered for the corridor.
In the picturesque Gilmore Valley, landholder Mick Kelly is worried about the potential impact on productive agricultural land and the lifestyle values of the hobby blocks in the region.
“It’s another curveball thrown — everyone’s back on their feet, they’ve done a lot of work after the fires, people have got everything cracking and a few blokes have bought a bit more country since this has been going on.”
Mr Kelly is calling for greater consideration of using publicly owned land for the transmission line.
“There’s ground there that’s government ground, be it national park or forestry,” he said.
“But the whole thing is it’s the cost of the project, they don’t want to go onto these places because they’ve got to clear the easements under the powerlines — if they can walk over someone for a monetary benefit, that’s what they’ll do.
“They want to meet with people [in] private, but everyone’s a bit gun shy of that, you know, send the information around and then let people talk and let them come at us as a untied front.”
Consultation to continue
TransGrid said it had “reset” its community consultation following an independent review, which found its processes relating to the HumeLink project did not meet best-practice standards.
Mr Edwards said consultation with farmers in the Gilmore Valley would be prioritised as the routes were further refined.
“Additional studies will refine them further and prospectively remove some of the additional options that we’ve put on the table by making sure we connect the lines and ultimately work through the constraints around environmental, technical and regulatory,” he said.
“All options around the different ways around connecting the lines are considered, and effectively where public land is feasible and we can work through either public or private land, we work through those constraints in an objective way.”
TransGrid has been advertising for people to be part of community consultative groups for the project.
An environmental impact statement is expected to be put on public exhibition next year.
Posted , updated