The company which is building a 190 kilometer renewable electricity transmission project in western Victoria has reported a significant delay to the project, having revised the date for submitting the environmental effects statement to the end of 2022.
Electricity utility AusNet Services said the decision to delay the SEA submission for six months, although influenced in part by COVID-19 restrictions and recent regional flooding, was primarily based on its desire to consult more closely with landowners and the community on the project. project journey.
The project – which will connect new renewable energy generators in Bulgana to the grid by building high-voltage transmission lines to Sydenham in Melbourne’s northwest – has long met fierce resistance from councils and residents opposed to the planned route of the project, as well as the prospect of long stretches of overhead wire crossing valuable farmland.
See the proposed itinerary plan below.
Hepburn Shire Council Mayor Tim Drylie welcomed the decision to delay the SEA, reiterating the council’s unwavering opposition to both the planned route and the 24ha terminal station in the Shire.
“[This] gives people more time to determine how they will respond to the SEA once it is released for community comment,” he said.
“We are extremely disappointed with the historic lack of transparency and poor community consultation with this project.”
“We hope [it] means that AusNet will use this time to listen to the community [and] properly consult with affected landowners and make material changes to this project, including re-routing or placing transmission lines underground. »
An SEA acts as a prerequisite to the start of work, with the state government required to review it and any public comments submitted in response before construction can begin.
For several months Moorabool and Hepburn Shire councils have demanded that the transmission cables be underground, despite the extra expense, which could run into the billions.
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