Snowy Valleys Councillors have voted to advocate for landholders affected by the HumeLink project to receive annual compensation payments as part of a list of requests they’re making to energy giant TransGrid.
The HumeLink project is being developed by TransGrid to reinforce the transmission network in southern NSW via a new 500kV transmission line going between Wagga Wagga, Bannaby and Maragle.
The powerline, which would include 65-metre tall towers and a 70-metre wide easement, is set to improve the flow of electricity between new generation sources, such as Snowy 2.0, and major demand centres in NSW.
The route of the proposed corridor goes through a number of Snowy Valleys properties. Affected landholders have formed various committees to oppose the route as currently planned and to undergo consultation with TransGrid, who have now visited Tumut a number of times.
During the council meeting last Thursday, Cr Margaret Isselmann suggested that as well as advocating for the Snowy Valleys community to be adequately consulted about the project, they also be adequately compensated.
“And possibly go into the political arena of saying ‘by an annualisation’,” she said.
“We need to support these people and I do think we have the capacity to ask that and get involved in what their compensation is.”
Cr Cor Smit agreed with her addition.
“It is important for us to continue to lobby and get as much information and feedback coming back to the community from TransGrid,” he said.
Cr Geoff Pritchard said after that a presentation that council received from TransGrid, he felt “quite dismayed” at the amount of compensation landholders are set to receive.
“I think it’s a big issue and it would affect other councils in the state,” he said, suggesting that the issue is raised with Local Government NSW or a Shires Association meeting so they can take a stance regarding the powerlines.
“They’d have the legal advice and the money to get some proper legal advice.”
Cr John Larter said that the issue of compensation needs to be looked at more broadly.
“There’s also the notion that this infrastructure impacts on the community more generally,” he said.
“As the Mayor’s indicated previously, and we’ve all advocated for, there’s a lot of give back schemes with regards to these other energy providers putting back into communities through royalties or payments or some sort of gratuity to actually improve communities, but I’m not sure that there’s a lot of willingness in this electricity sector to do that.
“We also need to make sure that we’re making a lot of noise about what we need as a community to make our lives here better in regional Australia so that businesses that are impacted, and communities that are impacted, have some offset.”
In terms of community offset, Cr Julia Ham suggested that if the powerline project was to go ahead as currently planned, the council should advocate for increased mobile connectivity.
“…those areas where the power lines are [should] have 100 per cent mobile connectivity as giving back to those isolated communities for which the power lines are going to go through,” she said.
Cr Bruce Wright said that this addition would also improve firefighting operations by “having that extra cover on some of those more isolated areas.”
Cr Isslemann remembered that during a presentation to the council, TransGrid said that HumeLink’s potential peak period would see 80 light and 75 heavy vehicles travelling along the route between Snowy Valleys Highway and Batlow Road up to Tumbarumba.
“I think the concept of that much traffic coming through, particularly Adelong and Batlow and small villages, is quite an impact and needs to be recognised,” she said.
“TransGrid were very receptive of understanding the difficulties that might pose and it does pose a difficulty to people who are living in the valleys … They have children on these roads going to and from school and such.”
Cr Cate Cross also commented on the impact of the infrastructure on local roads.
“I think whenever we talk to anybody who’s involved in all of these projects that we have that front and centre for them to support us in lobbying for [Financial Assistance Grants] and to be increased.”
The council moved that the Mayor and councillors will advocate for the establishment of a legacy program to invest in the future of Snowy Valleys communities impacted by the project.
The council also moved that it would request for the corridor placement to be on public land where possible and that it will continue to work with TransGrid and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority about potential impacts on the Tumut Aerodrome.