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Country concerns ignored in power tower push: NSW Farmers

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NSW Farmers’ Association, Media Release, 31 August 2023

NSW Farmers has accused the state government of ignoring the concerns of regional communities, with the Premier reportedly vowing to build enormous overhead powerlines across the state.

Media reports on Thursday revealed the Premier told a Business Sydney event that overhead powerlines were the only option, pre-empting the outcome of a Labor-led inquiry into the undergrounding of transmission lines. The inquiry was launched following serious concerns from farmers and country communities, who complained they were being made to pay the cost of keeping the lights on in Sydney.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said the comments were deeply disappointing, and the government would need to work hard to minimise the impact on rural and regional taxpayers.

“The Premier has set himself on a collision course with the regional taxpayers over this issue,” Mr Martin said.

“These overhead powerlines will involve towers taller than the pylons on the Sydney Harbour Bridge running through paddocks and across the countryside, and it will reduce our ability to grow food and fibre at a time when productivity is paramount.

“This ‘energy transition’ has been an incredibly mismanaged process to date and now we will see people in the country foot the bill for Sydney-centric government stuff-ups.”

Throughout the transition away from coal-fired power country communities had urged governments to work collaboratively with them. But instead, Mr Martin said, there had been many reports of bully-boy tactics from developers and government representatives who simply wanted to bulldoze their way through without any regard for the impact on locals.

Mr Martin also pointed to the fact the Premier’s comments were made to businesses in Sydney revealed the true divide between the city and the bush.

“We know that once you build on – or over – a piece of rural land you drastically reduce its potential productivity, and these impacts on productivity need to be properly recognised and respected,” Mr Martin said.

“Our state has an atrocious record of working with farmers and regional communities through the process of moving away from coal-fired power, and now it appears we will be forced to accept these enormous power towers.

“People in rural and regional NSW resent the fact that they will bear the brunt of these bad decisions to move power generation from the coast to the bush, and that they will be paying the price to keep the lights on in Sydney.”


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