NGSC submits a firm response to energy transmission report

Published on 12 April 2023

Northern Grampians Shire Council has called on governments and energy agencies to respond directly to the concerns of farmers and local landowners before it develops new power transmission infrastructure. 


Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, Cr Kevin Erwin, said the council and local farmers first learnt in late February that a new preferred overhead power transmission line had been proposed to cut through the heart of the shire. 

“Council is extremely concerned that infrastructure of this scale will have a very substantial and direct impact on prime agricultural land, but the period allowed for public input is too short,” Cr Erwin said. 

“Council has lodged its submission last week which raises a raft of unanswered questions from the community that need to be addressed before the project proceeds further.” 

The Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) is a proposed new high capacity 500 kilovolt (kV) double-circuit overhead transmission line increasing capacity to share electricity across the National Electricity Market.   

VNI West is one of four key projects supported in Victoria under the Australian Government’s Rewiring the Nation Plan which seeks to fast-track renewable energy development. 

The changed alignment of VNI West first released in February, recommends a new preferred route moving the project further west, with the development of major overhead transmission lines proposed to run right through the shire from Bulgana before exiting north of St Arnaud. 

The project has been further accelerated by a Ministerial NEVA Order issued by the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Minister for Minister for Energy and Resources under the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 2005.  

The order identifies that its intention is to authorise AEMO to undertake early works leading up to spring surveys as part of the planning and environmental approval process for VNI West from the third quarter of 2023. 

In response, Council and the St Arnaud Branch of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) organised a public forum about the project on 21 March attended by 170 people mainly made up of the local agricultural community.  

The evening included presentations from the VFF and the CEO of VicGrid, Alistair Parker who leads the Victorian Government’s energy planning and development agency. 

“We can appreciate that with the early retirement of coal generation facilities, new transmission infrastructure is needed to keep the lights on,” Cr Erwin continued. 

“However, what was clear on the night is that landowners have real and legitimate concerns about their property rights, biosecurity risks, fair and equitable compensation, emergency management, and what farming practices can continue under or near transmission lines. 

“At the forum most of these questions were left unanswered. Rather than decide and defend, the government needs to ensure that meaningful consultation and direct negotiation is offered.” 

Post the public meeting, the council has set up a regular online forum involving the VFF and government representatives. The forum will continue as a regular online meeting to ensure a free flow of information with the first meeting taking place on Wednesday 29 March. 

Cr Erwin said that these discussions have been extremely positive and there was genuine acknowledgement from the government agencies that they need to up their game significantly. 

“We hope to get everyone working together. Without a free flow of information and transparency – it creates a huge void that will be filled with misinformation, which is not helpful to anybody,” Cr Erwin added. 

“Respect for people is also crucial. Unlike other small businesses, the farm enterprise is also the family home, and for many the association with the property is generational. 

“The stress substantial change and upheaval can cause in these circumstances should not be underestimated in terms of its impact on the mental health and wellbeing of farming families.” Cr Erwin concluded. 

To read the Northern Grampians Shire Council’s submission in detail, please download the document from the sidebar or click here(PDF, 480KB)

For more information contact:  

Media & Communications - Lauren Shipman



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