Overview

AusNet Mondo is planning a 190 km overhead high voltage transmission line from Sydenham near Melbourne to Bulgana in western Victoria. The transmission line will cross Hepburn Shire from east to west through the Mt Prospect, Newlyn, Kingston and Smeaton communities, with a 24-hectare site identified at Mt. Prospect for a terminal station.

Council is supportive of renewable energy but our clean energy future must be based on trust with the community. Council is opposed to the project in its current location and form and will continue to advocate for better solutions. Overhead transmission lines and a terminal station at Mt. Prospect will have significant impacts on the shire.Council wants to see transmission line infrastructure placed underground or re-routed so as to avoid impacting on high quality agricultural land, attractive heritage landscapes and the wellbeing of local communities.

Project approvals

In August 2020 the Minister for Planning directed AusNet Services to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Western Renewables Link Project.

Council, together with other councils affected by the project, is represented on a Technical Reference Group convened by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to oversee the production an EES that properly addresses all relevant matters prescribed by the Minister in his EES Scoping Requirements. Read the EES Final Scoping Requirements and EES Statement Frequently Asked Questions Western Renewables Link (planning.vic.gov.au)

When the EES is completed (by late 2022) it will be exhibited for public comment in early 2023.An Inquiry will be held to consider the EES and submissions, conduct a public hearing and report in writing to the Minister, who will then make his assessment and provide it to decision-makers for consideration.

Latest news

Victoria to New South Wales Interconnect West (VNI West Project)

  • On 29 July 2022, AEMO and Transgrid released the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR) for the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West project.
  • This new project is a proposed high capacity 500 kilovolt (kV) double-circuit overhead transmission line between Victoria and New South Wales. It will connect the Project EnergyConnect at Dinawan in the NSW Riverina via Kerang and Bendigo to the Western Renewables Link at the proposed terminal station site north of Ballarat (Mt Prospect).
  • Council will seek further information and details about the VNI West Project and will make a submission to the PADR.Submissions are due on or before 9 September 2022.
  • Read more about the VNI West Project and Council’s response.

COUNCIL WANTS YOU TO BE HEARD

When the EES is on exhibition early next year the public will have an opportunity to submit their objection formally.

Timeline

  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Stakeholder engagement

    Stakeholder feedback.

  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    Area of interest engagement and EES referral Lodged

    Identifying opportunities and constraints

  • Timeline item 3 - complete

    Exhibition of draft EES scoping requirements

    Scoping requirements determined for the EES

    Click here to view

  • Timeline item 4 - active

    EES preparation and specialist studies

    Ausnet are currently undertaking land capability assessments and completing the EES.
    Ausnet have recently been trying to access land and have been issuing section 93's.

  • Timeline item 5 - incomplete

    EES goes on exhibition

    Draft EES and technical reports are submitted to DELWP for review.
    EES is on exhibition for 30 days.
    In this 30 day period the community has an opportunity to submit their objection. Each submission will inform the panel in making its recomendations to the Minister for Planning

COUNCIL STRONGLY OPPOSED TO WESTERN VICTORIA TRANSMISSION NETWORK ANNOUNCEMENT

AusNet Services has released details of the proposed route for overhead transmission lines in the Western Renewables Link (formally WVTNP) , including confirmation that an extremely large terminal station will be located in Hepburn Shire, against strong community feedback.

Hepburn Shire Council is one of the worst affected Councils arising from this project, with both planned transmission lines of 220kv and 500kv and a 24ha terminal station being proposed within our Council area on some of the highest value agriculture land in Australia.

In August 2021, CEO Bradley Thomas stated in a letter addressed to AEMO, DELWP and 33 State and Federal Ministers that “council acknowledges the need for renewable power however we don’t believe this needs to be at the expense of forethought and quality process. AusNet have been awarded the project with tight delivery timeframes and on this basis their consultation with Councils and the community to date has been completely unsatisfactory. Council is currently receiving less then 24hrs notice prior to any major release of information, most recently was the single corridor announcement of which Council was formally notified after the media announcement. Our continued requests to be informed are ignored, this creates further distrust with the community and emboldens the wedge of distrust between council, the community, and the project deliverers.”

Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie, said that Council is strongly opposed to the proposed route and the size and location of the terminal station.

“We are extremely disappointed at the lack of transparency and poor community consultation with this project and we are calling for a full review by the State Government, and we understand the announcement will be very concerning for members of our community. We have been advocating strongly on behalf of the community and are extremely disappointed that the concerns of Council and the community have been ignored. The upcoming EES (Environmental Effects Statement provided by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) process will be vital and Council will be making a strong submission.”

The council will also be supporting the community in keeping them informed on significant dates and to make submissions during the EES process by holding information sessions in early 2022.

“While Council is highly supportive of renewable energy, our clean energy future must be based on trust with community, and we are strongly opposed to the transmission lines being above ground and along the route proposed. It will have a significant impact on our valuable agricultural land, significant landscapes and the health and wellbeing of local people. The proposed lines will also impact tourism, a significant part of our local economy, by diminishing overall amenity and the visitor experience,” said Cr Drylie.

Australian Energy Marker Operator (AEMO) identified the need for the Western Renewables Link project to help unlock the increasing amount of renewable energy being produced in the state's west. AusNet Services has been awarded the contract to design and construct 190 km of new overhead high voltage transmission line from Sydenham to Bulgana. A significant part of the 500kv lines route and a new terminal station are within the Hepburn shire. The project will enable the connection of new renewable energy generated in western Victoria into the National Electricity Market and increase the Victorian transmission network capacity.

The final route of the transmission line was recently determined. View interactive map of proposed route by clicking here