THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) will create a new VFF Energy and Transmission Taskforce, which includes Gippsland’s Hamilton Gerrand, to lead its advocacy on renewable energy and transmission infrastructure development across Victoria and help give farmers a say.
The new taskforce, which includes Mr Gerrand, who is VFF Gippsland’s branch president, was established by the VFF Policy Council and will focus on providing a united advocacy approach for farming communities that are battling proposed developments.
The VFF president, Mirboo North’s Emma Germano, said it was important that farmers who are directly affected by these developments lead the VFF’s advocacy efforts on the issues affecting their communities.
“Ironically, this taskforce is about giving power to the people to have their say,” she said.
“Farmers need to be the ones at the centre of this. It’s their livelihoods at risk and it’s their communities that are being torn apart.
“It’s vital that the VFF’s advocacy is directly connected to the communities that are set to be impacted. It’s also important that these communities are connected to one another.”
Apart from Mr Gerrand, the taskforce will be led by the VFF’s Planning, Environment and Climate Change Committee chair, Gerald Leach, who will work alongside VFF Horticulture vice-president, Katherine Myers; and VFF water councillor, Kain Richardson, with further members to be appointed over the coming weeks.
“The work done by farmer advocates to date has been incredible. I’m pleased that we will have people like Gerald, Katherine, Kain and Hamilton sharing their local experience with farmers from other parts of the state, who are just starting to learn about the significant impact these developments pose for their own farm businesses,” Ms Germano said.
Ms Germano said the taskforce’s focus would be on critical issues involving land access and compensation for farmers, whilst also looking at alternatives to overhead powerlines over farms.
VFF taskforce to give farmers a voice
“The Victorian Government’s announcement of $8000 additional per kilometre of easement was truly a slap in the face for farmers, when we haven’t even had the discussion about what fair compensation looks like,” she said.
“We need to solve that issue, whilst also looking to alternatives to build transmission towers over farms. Using existing easements and undergrounding powerlines must be explored.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, wants to know why transmission lines for the Gippsland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) are not being placed underground.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr O’Brien called on the Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio to explain why underground transmission lines are not being considered, not just for the Gippsland REZ but around the state.
“I am very aware of the additional costs and technical difficulties that will likely apply to underground versus overhead transmission lines,” he said.
“But the government has recently gone through a round of consultation in which the vast majority of constituents – people faced with prospective overhead transmission lines on their properties – asked the question about undergrounding.
“The Minister needs to come out and explain and give information about the potential costs and benefits of overhead versus underground.”
THE state government says the new $8000 payments will apply to Integrated System Plan (ISP) and Victorian Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) transmission projects and are in addition to any payments under existing arrangements for transmission easements under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986.
The new payments, which will first go to landholders in western Victoria, will also apply to the Victoria-Tasmania interconnector (Marinus Link) project and transmission links being developed by VicGrid to connect Victorian Renewable Energy Zones and future offshore wind projects.
In Gippsland’s REZ, a new 500kV transmission line and terminal station are planned to connect generators at the coast back to the existing network in the Latrobe Valley, either at Hazelwood or Loy Yang. They will connect up to 5000MW of new offshore wind generation in Gippsland. The link is expected to provide up to 2100 megawatts of network capacity for future renewable energy generation projects.Marinus Link is a proposed 1500 MW undersea and underground electricity connection to further link Tasmania and Victoria. It will provide access to 1500 MW of capacity from Tasmania, including pumped hydro storage to provide base-load electricity when needed.