Hepburn Council will lobby to underground high voltage transmission lines through Hepburn Shire proposed by the Western Victorian Transmission Network project. There is community concern about the impact of the lines.

Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt said that Council has heard loud and clear from the community that decisive action needs to be taken to protect agricultural land.

“We understand the need to transition to renewable energy, but our communities are in complete distress about what this project means for their productive farmland,” said Cr Hewitt.

“We need to balance the need for renewable energy with that of our community, particularly those who have much to lose if the transmission lines are built on their farmland,” said Cr Hewitt.

Council passed a motion that supports renewable energy but argues there is real distress for farmers and the wider community facing transmission lines on farming land.

Council will write to AusNet and other decision makers urging the power lines are put under ground and that they consider the wider impacts of the transmission lines on the environment and communities.

Council will allocate funds to prepare a submission to the Environmental Effects Statement for the transmission lines highlighting bushfire risk, threat to agricultural land and the impact on historic and sensitive landscapes.

 Moorabool Council is also campaigning for the lines to go under ground.

In response to community concern AusNet has pointed out that the transmission lines are critical for the expansion of renewable energy. Victoria is aiming to reach 50 percent of its energy requirements by renewables by 2030.

The increase in renewable energy is anticipated to significantly reduce energy costs for consumers and reduce green house emissions.

The new transmission lines required for the expansion in renewable energy are the first major upgrade to the transmission network built decades ago for coal fired power.

AusNet points out that while under grounding may be the preferred strategy for those who are directly affected, this would require massive wide, deep trenching that would damage landscapes and cultural heritage at many times the cost of overhead transmission lines.

Following community concern, the Victorian Government has established VicGrid.  In announcing the new body in February, energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said, “Our plan will deliver investment for regional Victoria, and we aim to build the social licence before proceeding,”

VicGrid will work with local communities and traditional owners to make sure their concerns are heard and considered. It is anticipated VicGrid will be in place by the middle of the year.