A SHORTLIST of possible routes for a corridor of power lines connecting the proposed Orana-Central West Renewable Energy Zone to the existing grid is set to be submitted.
TransGrid will submit its recommendations to NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean in the coming weeks, however one possible route on the shortlist has sparked anger from landholders.
Members of the Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance have been trying to work with TransGrid and the state government since forming in February to have a proposed study corridor for High Voltage transmission lines which would go through prime agricultural land across the Merriwa Cassilis Plateau moved to a more direct location.
However, despite a recent meeting between alliance members, TransGrid and the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Environment (DPIE) in which nine alternative study routes to the South were proposed, the route across Merriwa Plateau will remain the recommendation of the company.
Alliance secretary Heidi Inder said while the group was disappointed the route remained on the shortlist, we are hopeful the other nine proposed alternatives would be given fair consideration by the government.
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"It is very disappointing that our members are still having to justify the detrimental impact this corridor of power lines will have on our community, our livelihoods and our land," Mrs Inder told The Land.
"TransGrid are not listening to our community and their objectives haven't really changed since we began this working group with the DPIE earlier this year.
"Honestly, for proper public consultation, they should have genuinely engaged with our community long before sending us a letter in December last year telling us where the this project was happening.
"Our community strongly object to this route being included in the shortlist but we will continue to fight to be heard.
"We hope to present our case to the Minister Matt Kean before he makes a decision on the study corridor.
"There are a number of southern alternative study corridor options which, if selected, would have much less impact on agricultural production and rural communities and utilise existing transmission line easements, public land and degraded mining land.
"We hope that the long term economic value of highly productive farming land is given priority over redundant coal mining land which will be winding back and closing over the next 5 to 10 years.
"This is an opportunity for NSW Government to demonstrate their commitment to strategically planning for a renewable energy future with careful regard to reusing existing infrastructure corridors, consolidating impact and preventing harm to rural communities and the sustainable agricultural industries around which these communities are built. "
The alliance has so far garnered support from various state and federal politicians including NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall who said he was hopeful a mutually beneficial result could be achieved.
"I have made my position very clear that it is my preference that these sorts of large-scale public infrastructure projects should, wherever possible, be built on public land," Mr Marshall said.
"Whether it be travelling stock routes, crown land, state forests or national parks, there is precedence for that because we have many transmission lines that go through those sorts of areas in NSW.
"I think that should be the case for all kinds of infrastructure for the very obvious reasons and I think TransGrid needs to seriously rethink that.
"I also have made it clear to the alliance that what they are aiming to achieve will be good public policy."
TransGrid is expected to submit its shortlist of routes before September 10.
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