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Proposed route a step towards unlocking clean energy

The Western Victoria Transmission Network Project (WVTNP) has been narrowed down from a corridor of land to a proposed route, providing clarity to hundreds of landholders.

The proposed route for the 190-kilometre transmission line between Sydenham and Bulgana is the result of 18 months of extensive investigations, field surveys and consultation. 

WVTNP Executive Project Director, Stephanie McGregor, said it had been designed to run along existing transmission line easements and at a maximum distance from houses as much as possible, and to minimise impacts - including on Aboriginal cultural heritage, agriculture, and vegetation.

“Determining this proposed route is a positive step toward unlocking more clean, renewable energy as the state moves to sustainable green power in coming years,” she said.

There are three locations along the route where alternative options are still being investigated – at Hepburn Lagoon, Darley and Melton Aerodrome – due to potential visual, landscape, Aboriginal cultural heritage and aviation impacts.

Ms McGregor said AusNet Services had planned to finalise the route by the end of this year, but it was a complex project and important to take the time to investigate these alternatives.

"Sharing the proposed route now will ensure much-needed clarity for around 220 of the 465 landholders that were within the single corridor. They now have the confirmation that their property is not on the proposed route,” she said.

AusNet Services has also released the preliminary findings of its investigation into undergrounding the transmission line, including full and partial undergrounding. 

The investigation has found that undergrounding the transmission line would require significant soil and vegetation removal and disturbance of Aboriginal cultural heritage, would limit opportunities for future renewable development, not meet the technical availability and reliability requirements of the electricity system, and cost approximately 16 times more. As a result, overhead construction has been recommended by the investigation. 

AusNet is still investigating undergrounding in some sections as part of the visual amenity and landscape assessments currently underway as part of the Environment Effects Statement (EES), but we know this is an important issue and wanted to share these preliminary findings now with landholders and the community.

The key findings of the investigation have been shared with the community and published on the WVTNP website, while the full report will form part of the EES for the project.

AusNet Services’ Land Liaison Officers are now contacting each landholder within the proposed route to discuss their specific land use and requirements, the proposed route, easements and compensation. 

Webinars will also be held on Tuesday 30 November at 7pm and on Thursday 2 December at 7pm.

Face-to-face community information sessions will then be held at Waubra, Miners Rest, Darley, Melton and Ballarat between 6-12 December. 

Technical experts and members of the project team will be available to answer questions on the proposed route, undergrounding, compensation, bushfire, visual impact, agriculture and the EES.

About the project

The WVTNP is a proposed new 190 kilometre transmission line starting at Bulgana, near Stawell in Victoria’s west, and connecting to Sydenham in Melbourne’s north-west, via a new terminal station to the north of Ballarat.

This proposed transmission line is needed to urgently reduce congestion on the existing transmission network and unlock new, clean electricity for Victorians. 

The additional line capacity will carry enough renewable energy to power more than 500,000 homes.

It will help to ensure sustainable and clean renewable energy being produced throughout western Victoria can enter the electricity grid as the state moves from coal-generated electricity to sustainable green power in coming years.

To prepare the Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the project, AusNet Services is undertaking environmental investigations to understand potential impacts and identify how they can be avoided, minimised or managed.