Outraged farmers are battling a $4 billion renewable electricity project that is expected to reduce up to 30 percent of the value of their farms.
The HumeLink is being built by Transgrid to provide a high voltage link between southern NSW and Sydney.
However, the system involves the construction of 360 km of power lines with huge towers as high as the pylons on the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Angry NSW residents said it would lead to ‘cause massive damage to communities and the environment and have called for the project to be taken underground.
More than 1,400 people already have a petition against the project and some landowners visited the NSW Parliament on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Rebecca Tobin, one of the farmers speaking out against the line, told Ben Fordham Live that the value of her family’s farm will drop by 30 percent because of the power lines.
Rebecca Tobin, one of the farmers who spoke out against the line, told Ben Fordham Live that the value of her family’s farm will drop by 30 percent because of the power lines.
Mrs. Tobin said she wanted to pass her farm on to her children and to her children’s children
“Our farms are the embodiment of who we are. They are very much our livelihood, they are part of us,” Ms Tobin said.
‘We will pass our farms on to our children and our children’s children’
‘The value of our land is estimated at 30 percent. It devalues our homes.
‘But it actually deprives us of so much more than just a devaluation. We were threatened for all the black summer fires.
‘You can’t put out fires under these huge power lines. They’re going to make regions of NSW indefensible in the next fire.”
The petition against the project reads: ‘We call on the federal and state governments to act urgently and force Transgrid to shut down and rethink HumeLink for current and future generations, by taking the transmission lines underground, just like they are doing in Europe,’ Asia, California, and many other progressive jurisdictions around the world.
“Don’t let a foreign-owned company risk the lives of our precious wildlife and rural communities by going round the bend and destroying 2,500 acres of precious land to provide dangerous old tower technology to fuel the HumeLink transmission project.” realize.
Transgrid’s HumeLink proposal is to cut an unsightly scar 360km long and 70m wide, made up of towers as high as the Harbor Bridge’s pylons, through old-growth forests, state forests and working farms, from Wagga Wagga and Kosciusko National Park to the edge of the beautiful Southern Highlands.’
Michael Katz, another affected farmer, also spoke out against the project at Ben Fordham.
“Unfortunately, under NSW law, they can issue a writ of execution and do whatever they want,” said Mr Katz.
‘Our message is that underground is a viable solution for this. It is the solution used in the rest of the world. It is not significantly more expensive.
Hume Link will see the construction of 360km of power lines with massive towers as high as the pylons on the Sydney Harbor Bridge
The Hume Link project is slated to help unlock ‘full capacity’ of the Snowy 2.0 project
“Why do we persist in using this old-fashioned technology when we can have world-class underground power.”
Katz said the towers had been described as “lightning magnets.”
“They’re pretty big conductors for lightning and they’ll almost certainly start more wildfires than we’ve had in the past,” he said.
However, some farmers are more behind the plans after NSW treasurer Matt Kean announced a financing package to accelerate the development of critical energy infrastructure.
Under the plan, the government will hand over $200,000 to private landowners for every kilometer of their land crossed by a major infrastructure project.
Mr Kean’s announcement was intended to kick-start development of the NSW leg of the Hume Link interconnector.
The state is now offering landowners $200,000 per kilometer of new transmission infrastructure on their land, paid in annual installments over 20 years.
Separately, some farmers have revealed how they were able to make their own arrangements with Transgrid.
Fourth-generation sheep farmer Stephen Matthews lives about 60 km south of Wagga Wagga and was able to negotiate a deal with Transgrid to build 6 km of transmission lines on his farm.
‘[Companies are] become more reasonable as things progress and they have learned a lot, they are excited about the feedback – they don’t block it or anything,” Mr Matthews said the Australian Financial Review.
Wentworth farmer and grandfather Brendon Duncan, who lives on the border of NSW, Victoria and South Australia, revealed how he also struck a deal to build 40km of line on his sheep and arable farm.
“In hindsight, I think the government should have come up with something like this (the $200,000 bid) in the beginning…it would have made the whole thing a lot easier for people to turn their heads around,” said Mr Duncan.
On its website, Transgrid describes HumeLink as: a new 500kV transmission line that will connect Wagga Wagga, Bannaby and Maragle.
It is one of the state’s largest energy infrastructure projects and aims to “meet our future energy needs.”
The company said HumeLink is needed because: “Australia needs to move to a greater mix of low-emission renewables, such as wind and solar.
“HumeLink will provide a cheaper, more reliable and sustainable grid by increasing the amount of renewable energy that can be supplied through the national grid, shifting Australia towards a low-carbon future.”
Transgrid has been approached for comment.