In a positive move for farmers who quite clearly do not want above ground transmission lines encroaching on their property, the NSW Upper House has voted to establish a committee which will re-examine the viability of underground transmission lines.
The government-dominated State Development Committee's previous report concluded that underground lines was not a feasable option in comparison to above ground lines, a conclusion which was widely rejected by all non-government members and the community.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has been appointed chair of the inquiry and said the fight to ensure transmission lines will be undergrounded, in line with expert evidence, including as part of the construction of Transgrid's Humelink will continue despite the sham inquiry controlled by Government members.
"During the previous Inquiry, every witness we heard from, bar Transgrid, opposed overhead transmission lines," she said.
"I'm expecting that this Inquiry will be able to forensically examine the cost and benefits of undergrounding transmission lines compared to building them as overhead lines. We'll also give much more consideration as to how to ensure transmission lines built today can withstand more frequent and extreme weather-related events, particularly floods and fires.
"It's clear that Transgrid has no social licence to build Humelink with overhead transmission lines yet the Government controlled the numbers to produce a report that made findings and recommendations to the contrary.
"The last Inquiry felt like a sham, with the Government having clearly made up its mind before we heard from a single stakeholder. This new Inquiry, which is not controlled by government, will ensure the community's concerns are genuinely heard and acted upon.
"Multiple witnesses gave evidence to the committee regarding the increased risk that overhead transmission lines pose during bushfires.
"This increased risk, in the face of climate change, should be reason enough for the Government to be prioritising underground transmission lines where they can.
"Unlike the government-controlled State Development Committee's Inquiry, this won't be undertaking a tick-and-flick exercise. That's why we've established this Select Committee to examine this important issue more thoroughly and genuinely."
Terms of Reference
That the select committee on the further inquiry into the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects, inquire into and report on the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects, with particular reference to:
The committee shall comprise:
Cate Faehrmann MLC (chair), Wes Fang MLC (deputy chair), Rod Roberts MLC, one opposition member selected by the Leader of the Opposition, and three Government members selected by the Leader of the Government.
The committee will report on its findings by March 31, 2024.
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