Veitch goes in to bat for farmers

Mick Veitch wants TransGrid to consider a route that dosn’t encompass prime agricultural land through the Snowy Valleys for its multi-billion dollar HumeLink project.

The concerns of local landholders affected by the proposed HumeLink project appear to be gaining traction, both with the infrastructure company TransGrid – who is responsible for planning and building the 500kV powerline – and in Parliament.

The project was raised in the NSW upper house by Mick Veitch on September 17.

Mr Veitch drew on his local history in the region to stress the genuine concerns of affected landowners.

“I know this territory pretty well as I grew up in Yaven Creek, Ellerslie, where one of the easements is projected to go through,” he said.

“I also worked as a shearer at a number of properties where there is another part of the easement. One of the properties is owned by [Bill Kingwill], who is president of the HumeLink action group. I have waited 14 years to get the wonderful name of his property into Hansard. He owns a property called Scrubbers Bedden – which is a wonderful name for a property – in Adjungbilly. I have known the [Kingwill’s] for quite a while and they do not take on issues lightly. So it is clear this issue is worrying them.”

Mr Veitch told the Legislative Council that the farmers who own land along the HumeLink project corridor were impacted heavily by the Dunns Road fire and “it was clear they are still mentally scarred by that fire.” He said, “I was quite concerned for some of them”, especially as they are “now dealing with the consultation process for the HumeLink project.”

Mr Veitch said that the landowners “accept that the Snowy 2.0 project is going ahead and they accept that the electricity generated will need infrastructure to get it to its destination. 

“But they do not accept that this easement, which is about 70 metres wide, has to go through prime agricultural land when the other 330 kV easement is predominantly on Crown Land, going through national parks, WaterNSW land and State forest land.”

The landowners have long been arguing for the 500kV line to follow the existing easement for the 330kV line.

“There will obviously be logistical issues around that so they are not saying do not put the powerlines in,” said Mr Veitch. “They are just asking the State and Federal governments to please find another way of doing this and another easement.”

Landholders have expressed optimism in recent weeks, saying they feel they are being heard and the possibility of running the larger power lines through public land is being genuinely considered.

Mr Veitch kept the pressure on last week, finishing, “It does not make sense to run a 70‑metre corridor smack bang down the middle of prime agricultural land when there is an existing easement could be used. It may be more expensive but what is the cost of losing prime agricultural land?

“I say to TransGrid: Consult with the community on this important project and get it right.”