Hepburn Shire Council has slammed a proposal to establish overhead power lines for a new electricity transmission project to run through the Bendigo region.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced the release of the Regulatory Investment Test (RIT-T) for Infrastructure for the project on Friday, July 29.
The project will include a transmission line from Kerang, running through the Bendigo region to the proposed terminal station being constructed as part of the Western Renewables Link.
The proposed terminal station at Mount Prospect is located less than 15 kilometres from both Creswick and Daylesford.
In a statement released today, Hepburn Shire deputy mayor Jen Bray said while council was highly supportive of renewable energy, it strongly opposed above-ground transmission lines and the terminal station in the proposed location.
"We have made our position clear that we are strongly opposed to transmission lines being above ground and along the route proposed for the Western Renewables Link (formerly Western Victoria Transmission Network Project)," Cr Bray said.
"We are of the same view in relation to VNI West.
"The prospect of additional overhead transmission infrastructure bisecting the shire from north to south and connecting to the terminal station proposed in the Western Renewable Link is of great concern to the council and Hepburn Shire community.
"Overhead transmission lines and terminal station at Mount Prospect will have a significant impact on our valuable agricultural land, significant landscapes and the health and wellbeing of local people.
"The community and council have made this loud and clear - we do not want this above ground infrastructure."
Council acknowledged AEMO had engaged early with its about planning for the project and had been advised by council that proper consultation needed to be undertaken with the Hepburn community.
Council will continue to seek details about the project including the proposed alignment of the transmission line, the nature of the infrastructure and the environmental features and communities that will be impacted.
The VNI West Project Assessment Draft Report has been released for public comment for six weeks until September 9, 2022.
It is available at https://www.transgrid.com.au/projects-innovation/victoria-to-nsw-interconnector-west. Council will review the report and provide a submission.
Transgrid and AEMO Planning Victoria will hold online afternoon information sessions about the Project Assessment Draft Report on Wednesday, August 10 and Thursday, August 25.
"We encourage everyone interested in this project to register via the Transgrid website and head along to the sessions to learn more about the project and make your voice heard," Cr Bray said.
"Council is highly supportive of renewable energy, but our clean energy future must be based on trust with community.
"Planners of major infrastructure projects should ensure they secure appropriate social licence by addressing the environmental, social and economic implications for communities early in project development."
Council is assisting the community on the Environment Effects Statement (EES) process for the Western Renewables Link project which is the opportunity to comment on the need for undergrounding of transmission lines and improved placement of the proposed terminal station.
It is expected the EES on the Western Renewables Link will be released in early 2023, with the outcome of that EES process having a significant impact on the VNI West project.
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