Monday, February 26, 2024

Dud route: VNI West fails to satisfy

Recent stories

As Australians were stocking fridges and checking gas bottles before Australia Day, local farmers were receiving word that the towering transmission lines would carve through their properties. One farmer said it was the first contact they had from the company, stating “no personal contact” before receiving the news that left them feeling “side swiped.”   

On Monday, January 29, Transgrid released the latest preferred route for the NSW section of the VNI West Project. 

Project Director Colin Mayer said, “Today we have published the Draft Route Report for VNI West, developed in consultation with communities and stakeholders. It shows the short-listed routes, including the preliminary preferred route, for the section of VNI West from the Dinawan substation to the Murray River in NSW.

“It is one of four routes considered in the planning process and this report outlines all options, the benefits and risks for each and the community and stakeholder consultation which supported the process.

“We strongly encourage people to review the information and provide us with their feedback on this critical transmission project.”

The latest draft route report  (found here www.transgrid.com.au/projects-innovation/vni-west#Project-status) outlines the four options the company has derived after selecting the Option 5 route that saw the towers cross the inland delta floodplains from Kerang to Murrabit and to Moulamein and west towards Conargo. 

Another farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said it didn’t matter how many routes they outline, they don’t support the lines here at all.

“When power lines first came to the region, they helped bring wealth and prosperity.

“All these lines seem to do is bring benefits to city-based green agendas and leave the bill with us and our land.

“I’ve looked at the map and they still fail to show any flooding despite our property being totally under water.

“I had a Transgrid staff member on the farm and they basically argued that we didn’t flood. I offered to show them the marks on the tree.” 

It is true that the interactive map found on Transgrid’s site (www.transgrid.com.au/projects-innovation/vni-west#VNI-West-Interactive-Map) does fail to show any of the impacted farms or easements from Murrabit, Cunninyeuk, Moulamein and east towards Bundyulumblah despite roads being cut and some farms having nearly 2 metres of water across them. The map appears to include flood data from local government areas of Edward River Council and Balranald, but nothing for Murray River Council.

According to the report, the new path that crosses 17 named major water courses has 14 threatened flora species listed under the EPBC Act or listed as Serious and Irreversible Impact (SAII) under the BC Act that have been identified during desktop analysis.

Desktop analysis has also identified 30 threatened fauna species as high biodiversity constraints, being two amphibians, 18 avifauna, two mammals, two reptiles and six fish.

Predictive modelling also identified a number of high, medium and low potential areas for identifying Aboriginal heritage.

It’s not the first time government policy has chosen to ignore the ‘environment’ to save the ‘environment’, most notably the removal of water from flood plain delta without ANY environmental impact study. There is a sense of irony that the very rivers and creeks the government seeks to ‘save’ and protect with environmental watering and such programs as reconnecting rivers now sit in the way of them saving the ‘environment’ again.

You can hear from the company employed to construct the NSW leg of VNI West at the Community Consultative Group (CCG) meetings, or via drop-in sessions.

See the advertisement in the issue.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 1 February 2024

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 1 February 2024.

Related stories: Power play, VNI West debate rages, VNI West, Transgrid Moulamein meeting, High Voltage Transmission Lines-VNI West Kerang Meeting

KEEP IN TOUCH

Sign up to the Australian Rural & Regional News newsletters

Manage your subscription

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

For all the news from The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, go to https://www.thebridgenews.com.au/