Fierce lobbying from Corangamite and Moyne Shire councils on the positioning of transmission lines and poles to wind farms has resulted in a win.
The first sod was turned at the Mortlake South Wind Farm on Friday and the company building it announced its transmission lines would be installed underground.
Corangamite Shire mayor Neil Trotter welcomed the announcement, saying above ground transmission lines and poles for existing wind farms had “caused a fair bit of grief”.
Councillor Trotter said residents considered them an eyesore and some had been placed close to roads and existing gates or drive ways.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne announced earlier this week a planning permit would be required for the power lines.
“Prior to this the energy companies could pretty much come in and do as they liked and we had no control over them so it’s really great the planning minister has taken that on board,” Cr Trotter said.
He said the council was pleased that Acciona had committed to underground transmission lines for the Mortlake South Wind Farm.
He said the council would urge the state government to encourage other companies to do the same.
“Transmission lines, as they age, become dangerous as we saw in the St Patrick’s Day fires so anything they can do to put them underground, they should do,” Cr Trotter said. “If one company can do it, so can others.”
Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe echoed Cr Trotter’s views.
“We’re really pleased,” Cr Wolfe said.
“The Salt Creek transmission line runs from Moyne through to Corangamite for about 54 kilometres and it’s an eyesore.”
In addition to that he said a joint audit by Moyne and Corangamite shires had found a number of the existing poles were safety hazards.
Cr Wolfe said he believed underground transmission lines should be a standard requirement for new wind farms. “Otherwise we are going to end up with cobwebs of transmission lines across our shire, Corangamite shire and other shires,” he said.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio welcomed the company’s commitment to install the lines underground, but stopped short of saying she would encourage others to do the same. She visited the wind farm on Friday to turn the first sod.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the $275 million wind farm would have 35 turbines and produce enough energy to power 115,000 homes each year.
The project will create more than 90 jobs during construction and 34 ongoing jobs.
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