The community will now have more time to provide feedback on the HumeLink Project after the NSW Government confirmed that it would extend the public exhibition by two weeks until Tuesday 10 October.
The controversial project is proposing to install transmission lines between existing substations at Wagga Wagga and Bannaby and the proposed Maragle substation and a new substation at Gugaa.
The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has extended the exhibition period from four to six weeks and the additional time will allow stakeholders more time to review the environmental impact statement (EIS) and provide feedback.
“We understand this is a complex matter and the local community needs sufficient time to adequately review the documents,” said Planning Minister Paul Scully who also acknowledged the “strong advocacy” from Member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr.
“Community feedback is an important part of the planning process to make sure we consider all perspectives.”
Dr McGirr has been critical of the plan to install “cheap and nasty electricity transmission infrastructure” and has pushed for lines to be laid underground instead.
“There are serious challenges posed by the energy transition with impacts on the environment, agriculture and regional communities,” he said, welcoming the extension.
“Regional residents will bear the brunt of these challenges and the recent inquiry showed the high degree of concern that they have for this project.
“I urge all those who will be impacted to contribute to the EIS and make sure that your voice is heard; this really is so important.”
Among the concerns of landholders lobbying against the project are the increased risk of fires, the impact on agriculture and damage to the environment.
One of the key objections to undergrounding is the increased cost that Transgrid argues will be passed on to the consumer.
However, with the recent announcement that the Government would pour billions of dollars into energy projects to prop up the ageing network, protest groups say this is proof that increased investment shouldn’t impact power bills.
“Undergrounding is without doubt the fastest way to deliver a renewable energy future for NSW with community support,” said Michael Katz from the Stop, Rethink HumeLink campaign.
“There is mounting evidence from engineering experts in Australia and overseas that undergrounding can be done at far less cost and far more quickly than claimed by vested interests such as Transgrid.”
Last month, the Legislative Council Standing Committee on State Development concluded that HumeLink should proceed as an overhead transmission line project.
In response, Dr McGirr argued that ‘undergrounding’ was now considered best practice.
“There is no account of social licence and little regard for the communities impacted by this technology,” he said.
“The transmission to cheaper renewable energy is a historic opportunity for Australia and one we must get right.
“We must build a transmission network that our communities want, deserve and need rather than adopt the technology of the past hundred years for the next hundred years.”
You can make a submission here.