Nationals MLC Wes Fang has described as a “profound disappointment” a Legislative Council report that rejects the undergrounding of transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects.
The report, by the Standing Committee on State Development, has concluded:
“That, in considering all the evidence, the current plan for constructing HumeLink as a 500 kV overhead transmission line is the correct approach especially given the applicable regulatory environment and the lack of any action to date in progressing the undergrounding option.”
HumeLink is a transmission line connecting Wagga Wagga, Bannaby, and Maragle, involving 360 kilometres proposed new transmission lines and new or upgraded infrastructure at four substations.
Mr Fang said the report, in almost every conceivable way, fails to accurately capture the evidence and objections from community members and the landholders who will be affected.
“The Labor Party have used their numbers on this committee to ram through the fundings and recommendations of this report that HumeLink should go ahead as proposed,” Mr Fang said.
“This decision will break the hearts of those regional landholders who believed that this inquiry would be conducted in good faith. In reality, it appears it was a sham inquiry, with the decision already made and the process effectively used to legitimise the decision.
“Given that this report is not worth the paper it’s written on, it is incumbent upon the Legislative Council to do justice to the evidence and the issue. As such, a new select committee, where the government does not have a working majority and chaired by a crossbench or Opposition member, should be established in order to allow this issue to be reassessed,” Mr Fang said.
“Now we will see people in the country foot the bill for Sydney-centric government stuff-ups”
NSW Farmers has accused the Minns Labor Government of ignoring the concerns of regional communities with its plans to build enormous overhead powerlines across the state.
NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said the Premier has set himself on a collision course with regional taxpayers over this issue.
“These overhead powerlines will involve towers taller than the pylons on the Sydney Harbour Bridge running through paddocks and across the countryside, and it will reduce our ability to grow food and fibre at a time when productivity is paramount,” Mr Martin said.
“We know that once you build on – or over – a piece of rural land you drastically reduce its potential productivity, and these impacts on productivity need to be properly recognised and respected.
“Our state has an atrocious record of working with farmers and regional communities through the process of moving away from coal-fired power, and now it appears we will be forced to accept these enormous power towers.
“People in rural and regional NSW resent the fact that they will bear the brunt of these bad decisions to move power generation from the coast to the bush, and that they will be paying the price to keep the lights on in Sydney.”