Hepburn Shire Council is urging concerned community members to make a submission on the latest consultation report into the Victoria New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) project before the 5 April deadline.

VNI West is a proposed new high capacity 500 kilovolt (kV) double-circuit overhead transmission line between Victoria and New South Wales.

The project originally included a transmission line from Kerang in northern Victoria to a proposed terminal station in Hepburn Shire at Mount Prospect, planned for construction as part of the Western Renewables Link. The preferred site for the terminal station is now proposed to be at Bulgana in Northern Grampians Shire.

Council has welcomed some aspects and expressed serious concern about other conclusions  in Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Transgrid report.

“Council will make a strong submission to AEMO and Transgrid regarding the latest update,” said Mayor, Cr Brian Hood. “We know there is high community interest in this project and we encourage people to take a close look at the report and make a submission,” he said.

“While Mount Prospect is no longer the preferred option for a terminal station, it still remains an option. We also note that the proposed route of the Western Renewables Link transmission line through Hepburn Shire remains largely unchanged and is highly problematic,” he said.

A major concern for Council is the recommendation to increase the capacity of the proposed power lines from 220kV to 500kV along the section of the Western Renewables Link west. This change would require significantly larger towers and have an even greater adverse impact on landscapes, farmers and communities.

From Mount Prospect West to Bulgana, the height range of the proposed towers will be increased from 40 – 60 metres high to 60 – 80 metres high. The easement under them will increase from 40 – 60 metres wide to 70 – 100 metres wide.

“We are very disappointed that the undergrounding of power lines has not been considered,” said Cr Hood. “The unwillingness to consider this option for the more sensitive sections of the route demonstrates an indifference to genuine community concerns.”

AEMO and Transgrid will host online and in-person information sessions on Wednesday 22 March. Details of session times and bookings are available on Council’s engagement website, Participate Hepburn. There are links to the reports and information on how to make a submission.

Feedback on the report is due by 5 April 2023.

Related Stories:

Mixed Response to VNI West Report

Council Welcomes Review of Transmission Lines and Terminal Station