What is the project?
In 2019, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) completed a Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) to identify the most economical way of addressing limitations in the western Victoria transmission network. Following the RIT-T process, AEMO appointed AusNet Services to build, own, operate and maintain 190km of new overhead transmission lines between Bulgana and Sydenham, a new terminal station to the north of Ballarat and several minor electricity infrastructure upgrades across western Victoria.
Council is supportive of renewable energy and has acknowledged that the transmission lines are critical infrastructure for the future expansion of Victoria’s renewable energy generation capacity. Nevertheless, Council is concerned the Project will negatively impact the Hepburn Shire and its community.
Further, we have expressed the same concern in relation to the Western Victoria (WestVic) Transmission upgrades and the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNIWest) project which are progressing concurrently with the Project under the leadership of AEMO.
Council has been advocating on behalf of the community and raising concerns in relation to this project since early 2019 and continues to do so.
Council, at its Ordinary meeting held on Tuesday 15 September 2020, resolved the following:
- supports renewable energy and the need to access it;
- demands the undergrounding of the Western Victorian Transmission Network Project;
- continues to work with other municipalities to convince Federal and State Government of the importance of undergrounding the power line and demands honest and transparent community engagement;
- continues to work with community groups to get a clear and definite plan of the intended route of the proposed line;
- makes it known to AEMO, Ausnet/Mondo and Governments the potential damage to the significant landscapes and heritage sites within Hepburn Shire as well as the damage to the rights to productively farm;
- takes all steps deemed necessary to put a strong submission regarding the Environmental Effects Statement; and
- states that Hepburn Shire Council fully supports renewable energy in ways that do not cause damage to the Hepburn Shire and residents.
Final Environmental Effects Statement (EES) Scoping Requirements Issued by DELWP
The final scoping requirements that have just been issued by DELWP. The final scoping requirements set out in further detail the Ministers requirements for the environment assessment of the Western Victorian Transmission Network Project, including the investigation of potentially feasible project alternatives. Specific alternatives requiring investigation include:
- The boundaries of the original area of interest.
- Potential corridors and alignments within the area of interest.
- Siting of the new terminal station North of Ballarat.
- The rationale for the preferred mode of construction (overhead or underground, including potential for partial underground construction); and
- Other feasible alternatives raised through feedback from the community or other stakeholders.
Whilst the route of the transmission line has not yet been determined, AusNet Services has identified an area of interest and is undertaking investigations.
In August 2020, the Victorian Minister for Planning declared that an Environment Effects Statement (EES) is required for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project which will ensure that potential environmental impacts are fully and transparently assessed before the project goes ahead. More information can be found here (link is external).
In September 2020, the Federal Government concluded the project will be a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The assessment under the EPBC Act will be managed through the State Government under the Bilateral Agreement. More information can be found here (link is external).
Council continues to advocate on behalf of our community and in partnership with the other effected councils and various community groups has contacted various Ministers and politicians about our concerns.
Like our community, Council does attend information sessions, forums and is an active member of various community groups that have formed as a result of the proposed project. We are participating in discussions with the Clarks Hill District Power Alliance, Save Wattle Flat Community group, a working group of effected Councils (Hepburn, Moorabool, Melton and Ballarat), and have convened a working group of senior Council officers, Councillors and community representatives from the various groups to ensure shared knowledge. We are also a representative on the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project – Technical Reference Group. This body is a select panel of state and local government employees who are there to provide key technical advice to Ausnet/Mondo.
In addition, Council and a community representative recently met with the CEO and senior officers of AEMO to raise concerns regarding the process and the short community consultation timelines.
You are able to share your feedback directly with AusNet Services and have your voices heard by visiting www.westvictnp.com.au (link is external), calling (03) 9021 0674 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.