Three years on and the concerns are the same
Published on 04 July 2022
It was in June 2019 that Moorabool Shire Council made its first detailed submission to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) outlining significant concerns with the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project, which was recently renamed the Western Renewables Link.
The project proposes to construct a 190 km overhead high-voltage transmission line throughout western Victoria, approximately 60km of which is in Moorabool Shire.
“On its three-year anniversary, it is unacceptable to reflect on our original submission and find that the issues raised remain the same, and regardless of the community providing the same feedback there has been no material change to the project’s direction,” Moorabool Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Derek Madden said.
Despite community and stakeholder feedback consistently highlighting significant concerns, AEMO’s preferred construction method remains an overhead transmission line, which AusNet Services has since been contracted to deliver.
“It is unclear why Council and community members were invited to provide input into the project if this was to have no meaningful influence on the actual, tangible outcome,” Mr Madden said. “We understand why the community is feeling frustrated, and it also calls into question the credibility of the process.”
Council has spent three years highlighting the flaws in this project and the Federal Government has listened. The Albanese Labor Government recently committed to reform the assessment process that regulates major network investments (known as the RIT-T), describing it as ‘not fit for purpose’ and failing to serve community interests.
Council also recently submitted motions to both the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) calling for the two levels of Government to develop policies on:
- Conducting and integrating community engagement findings when planning for and delivering renewable energy high-voltage transmission projects
- Ensuring all future high-voltage transmission projects will be required to investigate the lowest social, environmental and economic impact technologies and design options available
“It should not be too late for the Western Renewables Link to benefit from putting these assessment and policy reforms into practice and would go a long way in earning the project the social licence it needs to proceed,” Mr Madden said.
To find out more about Council’s response to the project, visit moorabool.vic.gov.au/transmissionlines