By Ewen McRae
A plan to build a series of transmission towers through Melton and Moorabool will destroy livelihoods, according to some affected landowners.
Barbara and Glenn Ford farm land in Plumpton, and are in the area of interest for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project, a 190km stretch of power lines from Sydenham to Ballarat that is being proposed.
The Ford’s produce grain crops, make hay, and produce prime lamb on their property, which is one of several in the area that would be affected by the project.
They say if the towers are put in as they are currently planned, it will make their farming unpractical.
“We are in a green wedge zone, which is supposed to be protected from development,” Ms Ford said.
“Putting high voltage power lines right through our property would be a disaster for us. Every day we would have to go underneath these powerlines, and we will not be able to use equipment more than three metres tall.
“Well, all our vehicles are more than three metres tall, so that’s a huge impact on us. Even if we got permits to allow us under, that’s a safety issue for us that we shouldn’t have to deal with.”
While community groups and local councils have pushed for underground lines to be investigated to preserve farming land and also the appearance of the area, Ausnet -the company running the project- have said that is not being considered.
Ms Ford said community support for underground lines was strong.
“I know it has to go somewhere, but I think generally most locals think it should go underground,” she said.
“I sat through two of their online consultation sessions, and they’re not considering it because they’re not contracted for that.
“It just feels like not all the options have been explored properly, and it’s people like us that will suffer because of that.
“A lot of people aren’t even aware that this is happening, and that the views and landscapes that they love in the area are about to change because of this.”
Community members have set up a steering committee and website (no-overhead-power.com) to help voice their concerns as consultation for the project continues.