Hepburn Shire Council has welcomed some aspects and expressed concern about other conclusions outlined in the additional consultation report into the Victoria New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) project, which was released today by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Transgrid.
Hepburn Shire Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said Council was pleased to see the terminal station proposed for Mount Prospect in Hepburn Shire is no longer the preferred option but still had concerns about other recommendations.
“Mount Prospect is only a few kilometres from both Creswick and Daylesford. It was always a completely unacceptable location as the centrepoint of Victoria’s renewable transmission networks,” said Cr Hood.
“This is some of the best agricultural land in Victoria and an area known for its strong tourism sector. The community and Council have repeatedly called for the terminal station to be relocated from the proposed site and we are pleased that these concerns appear to have been listened to,” he said.
However, the largely unchanged power line route and significantly larger towers recommended in the report are of major concern for Council.
“The report recommends an increase in the overhead power lines from 220kV (kilovolt) to 500kV through our Shire. This would require significantly larger towers, which will have an even greater impact on our important landscapes, farming and the community,” said Cr Hood.
“Construction of enormous high-voltage transmission lines through Hepburn Shire and neighbouring areas are totally inappropriate and will completely overwhelm the landscape,” he said.
Council is also concerned that the powerline route remains largely unchanged in the report. “Council is highly supportive of renewable energy. However, we are strongly opposed to the transmission lines being above ground. We are very disappointed that the report does not further consider the undergrounding of power,” said Cr Hood.“This is a long-term project and will impact communities right across Victoria and into New South Wales for generations to come. While we recognise significant efforts have been made to improve the project, overall we believe there is potential to do better,” he said.
“Council will make a strong submission to AEMO and Translink. We encourage community members to also make a submission on this project while it is open for public feedback. “We also keenly await updates from AusNet on the impact the proposed changes to VNI West will have on the Western Renewables Link (WRL) in terms of route, timing and engagement.”
The report, a summary document and information on how to provide feedback are available at https://aemo.com.au/initiatives/major-programs/vni-west. Feedback is due by 5 April 2023.