Victoria’s Andrews government has today announced it will pay landholders who host transmission lines $8000 per kilometre per year for 25 years indexed to CPI as the state’s energy transformation gets underway.
It’s a sign the government is beginning to hear and respond to community concerns about new transmission infrastructure that will be critical to connect new wind and solar projects to the grid.
Environmental justice group Friends of the Earth welcomes the news saying it’s a good step in the right direction and there is more to be done to deliver real community benefits and protections for the natural environment as transmission is rolled out.
“It is essential that communities are supported to participate in planning transmission and this must be coordinated by government, it cannot be left to the private sector” said Wendy Farmer, Friends of the Earth Gippsland Organiser.
Friends of the Earth has been consulting with regional communities in Gippsland to understand their interests and concerns about transmission, and learn about what is needed to make sure transmission is done properly.
Gippsland farmer Ursula Alquier says:
”It’s no surprise communities are concerned about the large buildout of transmission infrastructure in Victoria and it’s absolutely critical the government gets its landholder and community benefits strategy right early on.
This is a step in the right direction and now we need the government to deliver stronger community benefits and coordinate engagement on the ground"
With the Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028 this is only becoming more urgent.
Friends of the Earth says a proper plan for community engagement needs to be matched with real protections for the environment.
“Communities need to be involved in the decision making process about where transmission is built and that includes protecting the beautiful environment that we all love and care for” said Wendy Farmer.
Today’s announcement of landholder payments comes shortly after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a redesign of the VNI West transmission line accounting for social and environmental values.
This is the kind of approach communities and environment groups need to see more of to feel confident Victoria can build transmission to act on climate while protecting biodiversity and sharing the benefits equitably with the community.
Friends of the Earth will continue to listen and engage with people in Gippsland to learn more about their interests, concerns and visions for the energy transformation.
Pat Simons | [email protected] | 0415 789 961
Wendy Farmer | [email protected] | 0408 261 551