20 September 2023

McGirr urges State Government not to rush adoption of Transgrid overhead transmission lines

| Jarryd Rowley
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Dr Joe Transgrid

Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr has voiced his concerns about proposed overhead transmission lines for the HumeLink project following the State Government’s backing of a recent inquiry. Photo: Supplied.

State Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr has urged the NSW Government not to rush implementing Transgrid’s multi-billion-dollar renewable electricity line across southern NSW.

Dr McGirr vented his concerns about the Legislative Council Standing Committee on State Development’s decision to support overhead wires for the HumeLink project, stating that the stakes are too high and the risk too great for Australia to take the ”cheap and nasty” path of rushed overhead transmission lines.

A new inquiry by the Legislative Council Select Committee has been launched to look into the possibility of pushing future renewable energy projects underground.

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Despite the heightened costs and construction periods, Dr McGirr insists the investment is necessary for the longevity of the project and the safety of landowners.

“This new inquiry will not stop the energy transition and nor does it seek to,” Dr McGirr said.

“What it will do is allow this parliament to independently examine further the benefits of underground versus overhead transmission infrastructure and allow for the genuine consideration of bushfire risk and other weather-related events, ongoing environmental impacts, and community mental health and welfare.”

Dr McGirr highlighted his disappointment towards the Government’s approval of the previous inquiry into the risk of overhead wires.

“The previous inquiry heard overwhelming evidence from impacted regional landowners and communities across the state about the terrible impact it would have on their properties,” the independent member said.

“The testimony of community members was supported by independent industry experts who provided informed and accurate information about the benefits and feasibility of undergrounding.

“Regrettably, the Standing Committee on State Development appeared to have made their decision to support the Government based largely on evidence from Transgrid that highlighted a conservative fear of cost increases and time delays.”

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Dr McGirr said the cost increases and delays were important but unfounded concerns and were addressed by evidence provided by the independent experts in the inquiry.

“Our parliament needs a more balanced consideration of the facts and I believe the Select Committee will provide this,” he said.

Transgrid will be closely monitored by Local Government NSW as it is currently advocating to the NSW Government to immediately establish a supervisory body to oversee decisions made by the energy giant.

This will mean Transgrid will be prohibited from implementing decisions that could potentially cause harm to regional communities without the satisfaction of the supervisory body.

The decision about the supervisory body will be made at the 2023 Local Government NSW annual conference in November.

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