Improved Transmission Corridor for Land Holders
BY ALEX TIGANI
There were smiles all around the Merriwa RSL club on February 25.
After 15 months of consultations, protests and gatherings, the corridor for Transgrid’s two proposed high voltage transmission lines, which were to cut through parts of Merriwa and Cassilis, will be redesigned.
Now the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) will be powering ahead with an improved transmission corridor that minimises impacts on local landowners.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said as Australia’s first renewable energy zone, the Central-West Orana REZ is pivotal to the NSW Government’s plan to make our electricity system cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.
“The revised study corridor for new transmission infrastructure will minimise impacts on prime agricultural land in the region and enable us to deliver greater capacity for the Central-West Orana REZ to meet future energy needs,” Mr Kean explained.
“As the new route can accommodate additional transmission lines, it gives us options to deliver nearly four times the amount of renewable power to the grid with the same infrastructure.”
Farmers and land holders first received notification of the proposed corridor in early December 2020 which led to the formation of the Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance in February 2021.
After a year of recommendations put forward to minimise the negative impact on livestock, grain production and the livelihoods of farming families, MCA president Peter Campbell says it was a relief that the NSW Government has genuinely listened.
“Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance have worked over the last 12 months, as a united community group, with NSW Government to ensure our landowners concerns and solutions were clear,” Mr Campbell explained.
“We are extremely grateful that the location of this revised study corridor is within the Renewable Energy Zone where it best fits the land use.”
“The announcement today makes the Merriwa-Cassilis community feel heard and our agricultural economy valued,” MCA secretary Heidi Inder added.
Member for the Upper Hunter David Layzell said the NSW Government has redesigned the eastern part of the corridor to avoid significant areas of high-quality agricultural land.
“This new route is a win for the Upper Hunter community and reflects the Government’s commitment to building new energy infrastructure in the right places,” he explained.
The Hunter River Times’ Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance Timeline
- December 4, 2020 – First consultation letter from TransGrid.
- February 2021 – Second consultation period from TransGrid leads to the formation of the Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance.
- April 28, 2021 – Alliance holds meeting with (then) Upper House MP Sam Farraway, Upper Hunter Nationals candidate Dave Layzell and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
- April 30, 2021 – Merriwa farmer Robert Goodear’s first discussion with The Hunter River Times.
- May 5, 2021 – TransGrid discussion a hot topic for Merriwa’s ‘Meet the Candidates’ night (17 days before the Upper Hunter by-election).
- May 12, 2021 – Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance members Peter Campbell and Heidi Inder meet with (then) Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Energy Minister Matt Keane, Sam Farraway (MLC) in Sydney.
- May 17, 2021 – Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Layzell and Farraway returns to Merriwa five days later for a public meeting.
- August 5, 2021 – The region goes into snap lockdown due to covid-19.
- September, 2021 – A united group of 120 angry farmers and community supporters protested over the power line proposal by TransGrid.
- December 5, 2021 – Alliance had online meeting with the Treasurer, Matt Kean, Upper House MP Sam Farraway, Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell and EnergyCo representative.
- January, 2022 – Alliance notified EnergyCo NSW has taken over responsibility (from Transgrid) for the development of the new transmission infrastructure for the Central-West Orana REZ.
- February 25, 2022 – NSW Treasurer Matt Keane and Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell announce that an improved transmission corridor will minimise impacts on local landowners and maximise options to unlock more renewable energy in the future.