Council Concern with VNI West Geotech Drilling Communication

Published on 07 May 2024

Northern Grampians Shire Council Concern with VNI West Geotech Drilling Communication and Council’s Role in Renewable Energy Developments

7 May 2024

Field surveys along the proposed VNI West draft corridor have begun, with Transmission Company Victoria (TCV) initiating a Geotech drilling program in Northern Grampians Shire in May. Drilling was halted in early May and is due to restart on 13 May.

According to documents provided to the public, the Geotech drilling program will assist TCV to develop a comprehensive understanding of environmental factors such as flora and fauna, as well as geological characteristics within the area.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Chief Executive Officer, Mr Brent McAlister, stated the Council is very concerned about the extremely poor communication with adjoining farmers about the drilling program.

“Whilst we did approve a Works Within Road Reserve Permit given our statutory obligations, we are concerned with the poor communication with local farmers about why this was occurring as it gives the impression that the VNI West transmission line is a done deal. As a municipal authority, we have a Road Authority responsibility, and it would not be appropriate for us to treat a permit application as anything more than a works site on the side of the road in our assessment of it. This is a separate matter to our significant concerns regarding the transmission line corridor; in this matter we feel that there is a lot lacking from the perspective of the farmers on the ground”, said Mr McAlister.

“It is necessity for enhanced efforts to ensure transparent and timely communication, along with targeted engagement with local stakeholders on matters affecting the community by TCV,” emphasised Mr McAlister.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Rob Haswell also believes that more consideration should be shown to those on the ground and wants to make it clear that the councillors of Northern Grampians Shire are standing with farmers.

"The transformation of the energy sector in Australia is a complex matter and one that has landed squarely on our agenda. What is clear for us, is that the VNI West line tentatively marked on the map of Victoria represents very real infrastructure constructed along tracts of land within the bounds of our shire. The decisions and actions related to this pathway will have a significant impact on real people, land and livelihoods, as this is front of mind at all times for both myself and my fellow councillors. We have and will continue to advocate for community impacts to be clearly identified and mitigated, and we will also continue to advocate for benefit sharing and alignment with community needs," said Cr Haswell.

“Our role with renewable energy proposed developments as a Council is to strongly advocate on behalf of our farming communities and towns within our regulatory and legislative responsibilities. Council will act to ensure any renewable energy related impacts are mitigated, and benefits are captured and shared, and we will achieve this by acting as a vital link between our community, renewable energy proponents and government.”

“We strongly support our farming communities and advocate to protect our agricultural industry and unique natural values. We set expectations for industry and other levels of government to meaningfully engage our community early, with clarity and respect. We engage early and meaningfully with industry and government on projects in the shire and we advocate for community impacts to be clearly identified and mitigated, as well as for benefit sharing and alignment with community needs.”

“As above, it is only reasonable to expect that industry and other levels of government communicate effectively. As councillors, we work to these same set expectations and do our best to engage with industry and government on projects within our shire,” added Cr Haswell.

For further information contact:  

Media & Communications – Lauren Shipman 



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