A Clarkes Hill family is calling for high voltage transmission lines between Sydenham and Bulgana to go underground – like a project which connected the Victorian and South Australian electricity grids in 2002.
Olivia Lawson has owned the land on top of the town’s namesake hill for four years – and weeks after finishing their home near the summit, they were approached by the Western Victoria Transmission Network project about a proposed line, towers and substation nearby.
She said Wedge Tailed Eagles, falcons, hawks, Swamp Harriers and Yellow Tailed Cockatoos were common around the hill, which is 720m above sea level and 80m above the flats below.
Project operators Mondo have confirmed the biggest pylons along the 190km line would be 80m tall.
Ms Lawson said the 500kV lines would obstruct significant views, interfere with the birdlife, prevent cropping in valuable volcanic soil and devalue the land.
“This property is also home to a tree grown from the seeds of the lone pine at Gallipoli. It’s survived decades on the very top of the hill, despite the constant wind,” she said.
“The local schoolchildren from St Mary’s visit every year on Anzac Day. It’s a living memorial for the people of this district and for our veterans.”
She has also raised concerned that pylons may be blown over in extreme winds which lash the area – especially after a storm which hit Cressy in February, downing six pylons and damaging two others.
The line of towers between Moorabool (near Geelong) and Mortlake has been cited as a example of the type of pylons locals in Melton, Moorabool, Hepburn and Ballarat can expect on the 500kV line.
“This line really needs to go underground,” she said.
“We’ve seen several examples of long-distance underground lines in Australia. The Murraylink project connecting Victoria and South Australia’s grid via Mildura was a good example.”
The Moorabool and Central Highlands Power Alliance is now sweating on a decision from Planning Minister Richard Wynne about an Environmental Effects Statement.
Ausnet Services and Mondo submitted a referral on June 19 and the Minister had until today (July 10) to decide if an EES was needed.
If activated, it would create an extra avenue for locals to have their say.
The decision is expected to be delayed beyond its deadline due to the COVID19 lockdown in Melbourne.
** Ausnet Services and Mondo will hold an online question-and-answer session from 10am tomorrow (Saturday)
You can access instructions on how to join in by clicking here
** Meanwhile, the Moorabool and Central Highlands Power Alliance will hold a second public meeting via Zoom from 7pm Sunday (12 July).
RELATED STORY: What Moorabool’s transmission line will probably look like
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