Western Victoria Transmission Network Project

Overview: AusNet Services (AusNet) is planning a 190 km overhead high voltage transmission line in western Victoria. Moorabool Shire is earmarked for 60 km of the 500kV line from the eastern boundary to the west. Council is active in the planning process for the project, advocating for good community outcomes. This includes investigating options for the line to be put underground, the Green and Unseen campaign, consistent correspondence with decision-makers and hosting education sessions with technical experts to help empower our community.

Latest news

  • Moorabool Shire adopts updated High Voltage Transmission Line Setback Policy at an Ordinary Meeting of Council on Wednesday 7 September 2022
  • Council’s community session recording: 'Preparing a submission to an Environment Effects Statement public review' is available to view now on YouTube
  • We have hosted several sessions with technical experts to help empower the community: view the recordings below and visit our Council's Have Your Say webpage to submit your ideas for future topics and guest speakers
  • AusNet has announced adjustments to the route and next steps for consultation and approvals, see their website for more: westernrenewableslink.com.au/

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Project background
Council involvement and undergrounding
Community information sessions
Project timeline and resulting actions

Project background

What is the project?

AusNet Services (AusNet) has been awarded the contract to design and seek planning permission for 190 km of new overhead high voltage transmission lines from Sydenham to Bulgana, a new terminal station to the north of Ballarat and several electricity infrastructure upgrades across western Victoria. 

Adjustments to the final alignment of the transmission line were announced in August 2022, with Moorabool Shire proposed to host almost 60 km of the 500 kV transmission lines from the far west border through to the east in the northern half of the Shire. AusNet are currently finalising their impact investigations for consideration by the State Government. 

Subscribe to the project website to receive regular updates: westernrenewableslink.com.au/

Project approvals

AusNet Services is preparing an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Western Renewables Link (formerly named the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project), as mandated by the Minister for Planning in August 2020.

The Minister for Planning issued the final scoping requirements in December 2020 which broadly outline the issues that AusNet Services must address in the EES. 

Read the Environmental Effects Statement Scoping Requirements.(DOCX, 1MB)

Read the Environment Effects Statement Scoping FAQs.(DOCX, 2MB)

Once completed, an inquiry will consider the EES and submissions, conduct a public hearing and report in writing to the Minister, who will then make their assessment and provide it to decision-makers for consideration.  

The project is also classified as a ‘controlled action’ under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and assessments will be managed by the State Government under this Bilateral Agreement.

Council involvement and undergrounding

What is Council doing? 

We are advocating for the State and Federal governments to address community concerns, urging decision-makers to put the transmission line underground, participating as stakeholders on the project’s Technical Reference Group and providing transparent information to the public.  

Advocating for policy change 

In June 2022, motions submitted by Moorabool Shire Council to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) were adopted at the National General Assembly and State Council meeting respectively.

The motions advocate for reforming the regulatory process for major transmission network projects, calling on the state and federal governments to develop policies for:

  1. Conducting and integrating community engagement findings when planning for and delivering renewable energy high-voltage transmission projects.
  2. Ensuring all future high-voltage transmission projects will be required to investigate the lowest social, environmental and economic impact technologies and design options available.

Council will continue to advocate for all levels of government to work together to achieve Australia’s renewable energy transition without unacceptable burden on communities and the environment. 

Underground and economic technical reports  

Council has commissioned several independent reports to provide alternate perspectives and greater insight into technical aspects of the project, including:

  1. Underground vs overhead comparison report (PDF, 4MB) in 2020, exploring the viability of alternative solutions and confirming that undergrounding the transmission line can be done. 
  2. HVDC alternative underground scoping report(PDF, 4MB) in 2021, demonstrating that utilising HVDC cables for the WRL is a viable, low-impact alternative to the AC overhead transmission line currently being planned.
  3. Local economic impact assessment (PDF, 55MB) in 2021, examining the economic advantages and disadvantages not previously considered as part of the project’s Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) process. It found that the RIT-T considers only direct electricity market benefit and not any local, indirect or non-market impacts (positive or negative).

Green and Unseen campaign

Council has been advocating for the Western Renewables Link to explore underground construction options since the project was first announced. A campaign called Green and Unseen was launched by Council to communicate the issues with an overhead transmission line and urge for the line to go underground.  

We are proud to produce renewable energy through our wind farms, but putting the powerlines overhead is not green and is actually dangerous to Moorabool residents – hence our Green and Unseen campaign.

 

Community information sessions

Moorabool Shire Council has held several successful community sessions since 2020, as part of a series inviting technical experts to share their knowledge with the public on the many complexities of the project. The most recent session focused on how to prepare a strong submission to the Western Renewables Link’s Environment Effects Statement (EES) when it is exhibited for public comment in early-2023, and how the process itself will work.

Please visit Council’s Have Your Say webpage to submit your suggestions for future topics and guest speakers.   

All sessions were recorded and can be accessed via the YouTube hyperlinks below:

  • Preparing a submission to an Environment Effects Statement (EES) public review
    Presented by Louise Hicks, Barrister, and Jack Krohn, Senior Impact Assessor, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
    Wednesday 9 March 2022
    Watch the recording
  • Update on the Environment Effects Statement (EES) process
    Presented by Jack Krohn, Senior Impact Assessor, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
    Thursday 11 November 2021
    Watch the recording
  • Understanding the Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) in Western Victoria  
    Presented by Ben Ferguson, Director of Renewable Energy Zones Development Branch, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
    Thursday 25 November 2021
    Watch the recording
  • Understanding compulsory land acquisition and compensation 
    Presented by Tony Rutherford, Shaun Whittaker and Jackson Dyer from Mills Oakley Law Firm
    Thursday 8 October 2020
    Watch the recording

Project timeline and resulting actions

Council has been advocating on behalf of the community with decision-makers throughout the entire process:

 

Provide feedback to AusNet

Council strongly encourages everyone to share their feedback directly with AusNet Services and have their voices heard by visiting www.westernrenewableslink.com.au, calling 1300 360 795 or emailing info@westernrenewableslink.com.au

 

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