By Janie Garner
I acknowledge the spiritual, physical and cultural connection to Country of the first peoples.
High Voltage Transmission Towers. I am watching from my eyrie, a hornets’ nest. Under the unconvincing title of ‘renewable energy’ the government tries to push through a corridor of transmission towers and in the process leave country Victorians ‘hung out to dry’. The Occam’s Razor is that it is about the money and not about the environment. If it was about the environment the target would be to provide all the energy we personally need in a sensitive, contained and aesthetic manner. The ironwork grid is a thing of the past and has no value in our future.
Let’s be innovative and smart in Australia. The future of Australia’s power source is changing. Through the implementation of smart thinking and technology the government can minimise the impact of changes through best planning practices in the transition to renewable energy, protecting both the environment and the communities in the process. There are feasible alternatives to the proposed overhead towers across Western Victoria. Underground High Voltage Direct Current should be considered and it can share, for example, the railway easement. Underground HVDC has many advantages which include less energy losses, improved reliability and a significant reduction to the impact on the environment and regional communities, eliminating risks from extreme weather and bushfire related events. The technology is there. Underground is the only option now for connecting renewables to our grid. Let’s invest in the best and get it right the first time.
An example of undergrounding exists in the The SOO Green HVDC Link project. It was designed and will be constructed and operated to minimize environmental impacts with the transmission line underground. It is co-located alongside The Canadian Pacific Railway’s right- of- way, to satisfy growing customer demand for zero carbon electricity. It virtually eliminates the visual, land and environmental impact of above – ground transmission lines. For more information go to www.soogreenrr.com
Unfortunately, some members of our government support an antiquated project, in the form of a series of above- ground high voltage transmission towers, across Western Victoria, which will be destructive to the countryside and severely impact regional communities. This should have been stopped years ago and for those who represent us today in parliament, we in the country need you to listen to us now. The risk to people’s lives and the harm to the livelihood of the people who live along the corridor of this project was not measured. The loss of amenity and the capital loss of our properties and the cost to all Australians in future food production loss and food contamination was not calculated. The damage to the environment was not considered.
As you are all well aware, Victoria has Australia’s largest food manufacturing industry with a gross value of $38.1 billion per year. Agriculture Victoria states Victoria accounts for nearly a third of Australia’s total food output. It exports more dairy, fruit, nuts and prepared food compared to any other state. What we should be doing at this time is keeping our farms productive, ensuring our rural communities are thriving so that we can address the opportunities to continue to create a sustainable food system and improve global food security. Please go back to the drawing board, investigate viable transmission alternatives, and derive a new plan for an improved grid that supports the best interests of country Victorians.
Now is an opportune time to celebrate the country, to care for it. There has possibly never been a time in history that people are more in love with the beauty and pleasures of the country. People love to share these special places and make connections to the land. They want to show their children where their food is grown and they want to put the very best of Australia’s produce on the table for their families to eat. Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and our farmers continue to supply us with the best food in the world and sadly, have to fight to keep it that way. What we don’t want to see is an ugly corridor of transmission towers, unfarmable with red tape, draining our pockets, to pay for the exorbitant price of internationally owned electricity and bad government decisions. The way we deliver these projects needs to protect the environment– the very reason we are moving to renewable energy. Any considered easement for future transmission needs to be underground. We require innovative leadership that supports the needs of the people in the country, to re-imagine our future.
Changes in the way we live need to be made at a local, national and global level to protect our planet and address the issues of climate change. Countries that make careful, considerate and respectful decisions with the people regarding the way the future will look, will be the most successful in combating climate change. Now is the time to include consideration of all options and measured decision making about the direction we intend to take, as we move towards a more sustainable way of living. Let us tread carefully and respectfully and make good decisions. We are all custodians of the land and must continue to protect and respect the land for future generations.
To our government, please take the time to stop and listen and support us so that we can continue to support, rejoice and have faith in the outcome of projects that move towards renewables.