Powerline advocacy to ramp up


Sarah Oliver

Melton council will ramp up its advocacy efforts in a bid to have powerlines for the Western Transmission Network built underground.

At a council meeting on Monday, Melton city design and strategy manager Darren Rudd gave a report in response to a notice of motion put forward by councillors Lara Carli and Sophie Ramsey on September 27.

The report suggested that the council write to state and federal governments, who oversee the Australian Energy Market Operator, the body responsible for the project.

The letter will express the council’s concerns about the shortcomings in the selection process of deciding what kind of network to build, which at this stage will be overhead towers. AusNet has been contracted to build the network.

Council will advocate for the socio-economic and environmental investigation of all viable options, with particular focus on an underground network.

The report also suggests council meet with local MPs to voice concerns about the inadequate “triple bottom line assessment of other viable major power transmission corridor options”.

The report suggests council make its venues available for community and public meetings in relation to the project and that it updates its website to highlight its position on the project, including measures council is taking to support the community.

The report also recommends council considers allocating funding to support advocacy, technical report review and submissions about the project, as well representation at a hearing into the project’s Environmental Effects Statement.

Mr Rudd estimated the external technical support, expert witness and legal consultation would cost council about $350,000, adding that council should allow a further $20,000 per report, inclusive of rebuttal comments and submission.

Councillor Kathy Majdlik said she hopes AusNet and other powers involved in the decision making process remember “these monstrosity of towers” will run through people’s backyards.

“I also want to just outline the grief, the absolute grief that this has caused our residents, not only us as councillors, but our residents that live in this area.

“… For something so horrendous to go up in amongst our residents’ backyard. Some who have lived there for generations … I think it’s just appalling.”