Newlyn saved from controversial overhead powerline project

February 24, 2023 7:33 am in by
Image: Australian Energy Market Operator report

Residents of Newlyn may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has recommended a huge terminal station not be built in the area.

The station was to be the connection point for the controversial Western Renewables Link project and the Victoria-NSW interconnector.

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Instead AEMO says Bulgana, north of Ararat is the preferred site, and that the WRL segment be uprated

500 kV (from the currently proposed 220 kV) to harness more renewable generation – requiring significantly larger overhead towers.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed from the local councils affected by the decision.

Hepburn Shire Council has welcomed the news the Mount Prospect site has been taken off the table – one it said proposed a terminal station site reputed to be the size of 12 playing areas of the Melbourne Cricket Ground – but admits it still has concerns about other recommendations made in the report.

Namely, the largely unchanged power line route and significantly larger towers recommended – both of which will continue to impact local communities.

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In a statement, Hepburn Shire Mayor, Cr Brian Hood said “Council is highly supportive of renewable energy. However, we are strongly opposed to the transmission lines being above ground. We are very disappointed that the report does not further consider the undergrounding of power.”

Pyranees Shire Council has also welcomed news of the new site at Bulgana, however this lays the problem of overhead lines running through land, now with a significantly larger footprint, at the door of another community.

Council has acknowledged the impact on community members and landholders due to the upgrade and encourages affected residents to attend drop-in sessions and provide submissions as part of the ongoing RIT-T consultation process.