A last-minute change to the planned route for new overhead powerlines connecting Victoria and NSW has left a swathe of rural communities in limbo, Northern Victoria MP Gaelle Broad told Parliament.
Residents of western and northern Victoria have just four weeks remaining to comment on the new proposal for the massive project, and minimal detail has been provided, she said.
“Today I have asked the Government to commit to establishing a proper consultation process on the proposed new route,” Ms Broad said.
“Some locals believe the Government has simply taken the route of least resistance on this issue,” Ms Broad said.
“Last August, it was announced that the Kerang Link was the preferred option but now we find a completely new option has been thrown into the mix, with minimal consultation with councils and residents.”
The Government claimed it had enabled the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to start work early on the project, known as VNI West. The scheme would see a high-capacity overhead line connecting the Western Renewables Link at Ballarat with a new terminal station at Dinawan, near Jerilderie in NSW.
The original preferred route would have seen the project follow the existing powerline easement from Bendigo, through Prairie to Kerang.
The new plan follows a totally different footprint from Bulgana, between Ararat and Stawell, towards St Arnaud and across through Boort and Pyramid Hill.
“This is a complete change of direction for this multi-billion dollar project. There is no detail and only a few short weeks for consultation,” she said.
“I have asked the Minister for Energy and Resources to commit to a proper consultation process on this issue.”