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June 22, 2024 9:45 PM

Residents Object to Transmission Route

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Merriwa farmer Robert Goodear will not be able to transport four of his large vehicles from one side of his farm to the other if the proposed TransGrid project is approved.

BY ALEX TIGANI

Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance President Peter Campbell said he was pleased with the NSW Government’s commitment to work with locals impacted by a proposed transmission line corridor.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Upper Hunter Nationals candidate Dave Layzell and Upper House MP Sam Farraway told locals they would explore all corridor options (for these transmission lines) including public lands and other corridors that may have previously been overlooked by TransGrid at a public meeting at the Merriwa RSL on Monday evening.

“We welcome the commitment from the Minister and the Deputy Premier,” Mr Campbell told The Hunter River Times this week.

TransGrid aims to build two high voltage 500KV powerlines through productive farmland which runs from Merriwa, north-west to Cassilis and then south of Dunedoo towards Wellington.

A large number of residents received a notification letter about the project in December last year.

No alternative routes were offered in the consultation period at all.

This led the impacted landowners along and near the proposed corridor to establish the Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance which has continued to surge with popularity.

While the group do not oppose the important goal of delivering renewable energy, they fiercely oppose the location of the study corridor.

“The objective of the working group is to thoroughly investigate, evaluate and develop new corridor options on public land, existing infrastructure and mining land; to minimise the impact on agricultural land on the Merriwa – Cassilis Plateau,” Mr Campbell continued.

“The MCA Secretary Heidi Inder and I had a meeting with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro, NSW Energy Minister Matt Keane and Minister (Sam) Farraway in Sydney last Wednesday and we were pleased that they were able to come back to Merriwa this week and publically commit to standing up for farmers.”

Approximately 100 landowners between Merriwa and Cassilis will be impacted by the proposed corridor should it go ahead in its current form.

Merriwa farmer and former RFS captain Robert Goodear hopes those across the Upper Hunter understand the gravity of his situation if the project is approved.

“It’s not conflict, it’s just the realism of how dangerous this is going to be if it goes ahead,” Goodear told The Hunter River Times last month.

“They are talking about putting two lines across the middle of my property but that is dividing these two farms and we won’t be able to travel from one to the other with some of our farming machines.

“It is dangerous, four of these machines are well over the height restrictions to go under the lines.

“Many casual workers can forget about the height limit and could drive underneath it, hit it and then all of the sudden there is a massive explosion and another issue is that you cannot fight a fire underneath that line.”

While Mr Goodear was also pleased with the Government’s commitment to the working group he still remains disappointed with the lack of consultation from TransGrid.

“We only found out a few months ago,” he revealed.

“I received a letter in the mail and we were originally told it was going to be one powerline but then another person said two at the meeting (in February).

“We understand that that powerline has to go through but put it in the appropriate place so farmers can continue to manage our crops and pastures efficiently and our livelihoods aren’t impacted.”

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 in Cassilis with Upper House MP Sam Farraway, Upper Hunter Nationals candidate Dave Layzell and former 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 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.

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