Council welcomes review into transmission lines and terminal

Published on 15 December 2022

Windmill rural landscape

Hepburn Shire Council has welcomed the announcement that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Transgrid are investigating alternative options for the transmission line route and terminal station siting planned for the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) project.

The announcement was made in a recent project update, recognising the strong community opposition to the project, which proposes high-capacity 500 kilovolt (kV) double-circuit overhead transmission lines connecting the Western Renewables Link in Victoria to Energy Connect in New South Wales.

Mount Prospect, located less than 15km from Daylesford and Creswick in Hepburn Shire and within prime agricultural land, is the current proposed site for a 24-hectare terminal station.

“The proposed terminal station site is reputed to be the size of 12 playing areas of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG),” said Mayor, Cr Brian Hood.

“Council is incredibly supportive of reliable renewable energy, but these projects will be part of communities for decades to come. They need to be well-planned and thought out. This has not been the case for VNI West nor the Western Renewables Link to date,” said Cr Hood.

“We have worked closely with our community to oppose this project and this review is a positive sign that we may be listened to,” he said.

“The very large terminal station and power lines up to 80m high would be an incredible blight on our landscapes and have considerable adverse impacts on the highly-valuable and productive agricultural land in our Shire.”

While no decision has been made to change the proposed location, Council is optimistic that the review opens the opportunity for a rethink of the project.

Council will work with AusNet and AEMO as to what impact on the Western Renewables Link project, scope and route will emerge when the terminal station is relocated, given these are two separate but interdependent projects.

Cr Hood reiterated the importance of meaningful engagement with impacted communities.

“We are grateful that levels of government are listening to our community’s concerns with this project and will be very interested in the alternative options that they propose,” he said.