Transmission Company Victoria (TCV) will be at Charlton Park Complex on Wednesday 5 July from 4.00pm to 7.00pm, welcoming community members to ask questions and contribute information for consideration in refining the location for the VNI West transmission project.
The community sessions, being held in Boort, Kerang, Charlton, Navarre and St Arnaud, are part of a broader engagement program involving councils, Traditional Owners and other community stakeholders in rural towns in north-west Victoria.
At the end of May, the preferred option and a broad area of interest for the VNI West project was announced with support from the Victorian Government. This option is forecast to deliver $1.4 billion in net market benefits, and harness 3,400 megawatts of renewable generation in Victoria – enough to meet the annual electricity needs for approximately 2.3 million homes.
VNI West represents an investment in critical infrastructure that will harness clean, low-cost electricity from renewable energy zones (REZs) and improve the reliability and security of electricity supply across Victoria as coal-fired generation retires.
TCV is refining the 5 to 50 kilometre-wide area of interest to a 500m to 1km corridor in the next couple of months using valuable information from landholders, Traditional Owners and community members, along with extensive engineering and environmental assessments including ecology, cultural heritage, landscape and visual amenity, agricultural activities and proximity to settlements.
Nicola Falcon, spokesperson for TCV, said: “TCV is committed to working with rural and regional communities to deliver this critical project that will help deliver affordable and reliable energy for all Victorians.
“This includes identifying a route that minimises land-use disruption and avoids environmentally and culturally sensitive areas.
“To assist with this process, we’re using both existing and new insights collected from community members via meetings, community events and an online interactive map,” she said.
At the July community information sessions, attendees will be able to:
Provide input on local features and land use via an interactive map.
Learn about and discuss key topics of interest, such as farming under powerlines, and the pros and cons of moving powerlines underground.
Contribute ideas on unique local issues and opportunities for future ’shared benefits’ community programs.
A Community Reference Group is being established as a forum for ongoing feedback and engagement for the life of the project. The inaugural meeting is scheduled for late July. Expressions of Interest are open now, and any member of the community who is interested in participating can apply on the TCV website or contact the project team directly.
TCV have launched a new website (www.transmissionvictoria.com.au) that includes information about the project, including fact sheets on important topics such as farming around transmission, details of community engagement activities, information for landholders whose land may be impacted , and regular updates on the project.
Ms Falcon said: “The response to the interactive map has been positive, with over 220 comments logged in the first two weeks. Community feedback has alerted us to sensitivities such as habitats for endangered species, Aboriginal heritage sites of significance, existing infrastructure and constraints on specific properties.”
Narrowing down the transmission corridor
The project team is working to narrow the planned route for the transmission lines to provide more certainty for communities and allow TCV to engage directly with landholders to start answering specific questions on issues such as benefits, land access and compensation.
“Meetings with landholders, farmers, Traditional Owners and local communities through the next phase of the project will help to confirm underlying assumptions and guide the ongoing route refinement,” Ms Falcon said.
Environmental assessments, and ongoing discussions with landholders and others will lead to an indicative route of 200m - 400m later in 2023, which will be the focus of environmental field assessments and then the detailed studies required for planning and regulatory assessment. The team is aiming to identify the final easement for the project in 2025, ahead of construction commencing in 2026.
For those landholders potentially within the transmission corridor, TCV will assign a Landholder Liaison to better understand how the land is used today, how to minimise land use impacts and maximise opportunities for landholders through design and construction, as well as to discuss appropriate compensation and other details around establishing and working with a transmission easement.
“We thank everyone who has provided input to the project so far and welcome your ongoing engagement. Community feedback is a critical part of the process in coming months, and we look forward to meeting with local communities, landholders and other stakeholders in the region,” Ms Falcon said.