AusNet has revealed a single proposed corridor for the controversial Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.
- AusNet has proposed a corridor for a 190km electricity transmission line from Melbourne’s north-west to Bulgana, near Ararat
- Farmers say although the transmission line is needed, overhead powerlines will devastate agricultural production
- In February, AusNet narrowed down the proposed pathways for the project
The project proposes 500-kilovolt high-voltage transmission lines, that, if installed above ground, could be 85-metres high and would transport renewable energy from Bulgana, north of Ararat, to Melbourne.
The route, released by AusNet on Wednesday morning, would be built through the communities of Waubra, Tourello, Newlyn and Coimadai where there is opposition to the project.
AusNet says the new transmission lines are urgently needed and would create more than 300 construction jobs while providing economic benefits to communities along the route.
The transmission lines will run through Katherine Myers’s potato farm in Tourello.
Ms Myers says it is difficult to justify AusNet’s claim the route will “provide economic benefits”.
Ms Myers holds concerns about the impact the transmission lines would have on her farm’s production.
“The proposed corridor runs through the north of our farm, through the main block,” she said.
“It will certainly rule out growing certified seed potatoes there in the future.
“There are serious concerns for people who are irrigating and for people that are using innovative and novel agricultural practices.”
Ms Myers, vice president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Horticulture Division, said she was frustrated the local media was told about the project before landowners.
“They are not following their community consultation plan at all,” she said.
“They told us the residents would be first to know and we’d be given the heads up with a text message.
Farmers can grow crops: AusNet
Executive project director Stephanie McGregor said AusNet would continue to consult over the latest corridor.
“Nobody knows the land like the landholders themselves,” she said.
Ms McGregor said farming and transmission could occur side-by-side.
“We absolutely acknowledge and understand the uncertainty around the issue of farming under potential transmission lines,” she said.
Ms McGregor says AusNet is required to assess the viability of running the powerlines underground as part of its obligations for an Environment Effects Statement (EES).
“Whether it is full or partial … [AusNet] will be looking at undergrounding as part of that,” she said.
A report commissioned by Moorabool Council has found using high-voltage cables underground is a viable option for the Western Victoria Transmission Network.
The expert report looked at four alternatives to the current overhead proposal, which will see transmission lines erected on 85m pylons across farmland.
Energy and Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the “robust” EES process made sure all community concerns were heard.
“That’s done at arm’s length and independent of government and that should give all Victorians that will have a view on this project confidence that they can come forward, present their views, put their case, have their voices heard, and that all of those views will be assessed on the merits and against of course the EES guidelines,” she said.
“This is about further refinements of the proposed route, and I have been assured by AusNet that they will continue to have those meaningful consultations with communities and that they will make all attempts to address and resolve those community concerns.”