THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is concerned not enough is being done to protect the rights of landholders when it comes to the development and operation of transmission lines across farmland.
VFF President, Emma Germano, said the Essential Service Commission’s (ESC) newly released Land Access Code of Practice fell short of offering farmers the protections they need.
“Whilst the code is a positive step forward, it will not apply to existing transmission lines and we are concerned that it will not apply to new transmission lines once they have an easement in place,” she said.
“We believe the code should apply to whole of life of transmission assets. This view was supported by other stakeholders including the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner.”
“The Victorian government needs to take action to ensure the rights of all landholders are protected moving forward.”
Ms Germano said the VFF had been consulted as part of the ESC’s work to develop the code, making an important contribution to ensuring the protection of biosecurity.
“The need for biosecurity to be protected has been acknowledged in the code and transmission companies will be required to consult with landholders about farm biosecurity management plans and practices before entering their land,” she said.
“Some transmission companies attempted to water down these biosecurity requirements. We are pleased that the ESC has taken advice from the VFF and Agriculture Victoria.”
Ms Germano said work to create a stronger framework was underway.
“We need comprehensive rules and guidelines to ensure transmission companies are respecting the rights of farmers, including protecting farm biosecurity,” she said.
“The VFF is undertaking work to design options for a code of practice for transmission development similar to the existing Code of Practice for mineral exploration.
“We are also in discussions with government and industry stakeholders to ensure there is training and accreditation for transmission companies to ensure their representatives follow these rules and respect farmers’ rights.”