The Western Renewables Link (WRL), previously the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project, is a planned new major electricity transmission line between Bulgana, north of Ararat, and Sydenham which is set to come through the City of Melton via Plumpton and Toolern Vale. The project will connect with the future VNI-West project which is a planned transmission line to NSW and renewable power increasingly being generated in Western Victoria to Melbourne.
This is not a Council project and we do not have a role in determining the corridor or approving the project for the proposed transmission lines.
The project is currently undergoing an Environment Effects Statement (EES) planning process that is the responsibility of the Minister for Planning and is being overseen by the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP). Details about this process can be found at Planning Victoria website.
This is a privately delivered project in which the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has appointed Ausnet/Mondo to construct and operate the transmission line. Approvals including EES will be considered by the Victorian Government.
Council acknowledges that the transmission lines are critical infrastructure for the future expansion of Victoria’s renewable energy generation capacity and have many potential benefits for our community and the entire state.
However, the process and information to support a decision on a final route needs to be well considered, including a genuine level of engagement with impacted landowners.
Where will the Transmission Line be located?
On 26 November 2021, AusNet Services announced a preferred overhead transmission route through the north of City of Melton. You can view the corridor option here.
Council has expressed its disappointment that AusNet Services has proposed an overhead route despite calls from the community to explore an underground line and alternate routes.
This announcement comes despite the Minister for Planning requiring Ausnet to undertake an Environmental Effects Statement that should consider alternate corridors, alignments and site locations. This work has not yet been completed and yet a preferred route and treatment has been announced.
Council believes the current package of reports and investigations being undertaken by AusNet does not comply with the Minister’s scoping requirements for the EES by failing to consider other viable transmission options.
Melton City Council impression of how the proposed overhead transmission towers will look
What is Council doing?
Melton City Council is working closely with other affected councils, including Moorabool Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council and the City of Ballarat. We are providing input to the project through a Technical Reference Group to ensure the assessment process is thorough and considers the impacts on our local community.
Specifically, we have advocated for improvements to the consultation program to better engage with residents/landowners so their concerns are heard. We have also asked for clear, open and genuine engagement with affected landowners on the information that has informed the decision on the transmission line corridor through the City of Melton.
We have also advocated for Ausnet to undertake a full assessment to determine the route of least impact including consideration of undergrounding of the powerlines, particularly in sensitive areas. We received assurances from AusNet that underground options were being investigated for sections of the proposed corridor, so are disappointed that AusNet has proposed an overhead route despite this call.
Council will continue to advocate for the best information to be made available to ensure our community are placed in an informed position to assess how they may be impacted by this project.
We have been receiving enquiries from residents who may be affected by this project and we have done our best to ensure their information needs have been met.
Whilst Council does not have any role in the approval project, our role is to advocate on behalf of residents to achieve the best outcome for our community.
We continue to urge the Australian Energy Market Operator and the state government to require AusNet to properly investigate all viable transmission options and will continue to advocate to the State and Federal Energy Ministers to require a full assessment of other viable alternatives.
What can you do?
For more information or to raise any concerns, we encourage you to contact AusNet directly via westernrenewableslink.com.au or by calling 9021 0674 and providing them with your thoughts and feedback on the project.
We strongly encourage everyone, whether the project directly impacts you or not, to visit: westernrenewableslink.com.au to see the area of interest and highlight the locations that are important to you.