Gippsland farmers have been caught up in the Victorian Government’s push to create six new renewable energy zones, where solar and wind farms can be built to tap into planned high-voltage transmission lines condensers and batteries.
Giffard farmer Trent Anderson is just one of hundreds of farmers who are about to see solar and wind farms pop up over the back fence, while others are forced to provide easements for the new and upgraded powerlines needed funnel power back to Melbourne.
Solis RE, in partnership with Ferguson Family and Marathon Electrical, have notified locals they plan to build a 4000-hectare Gippsland Renewable Energy Park at Giffard and Darriman, having already secure half the land they need.
“What really worries me is that large-scale project like this make the area unviable, as we lose families, Mr Anderson said. “They always talk about the benefits to the environment, not the loss of agricultural jobs.”
Solis RE consultant Rob Spence said the Giffard area had been targeted because of its proximity to the Latrobe Valley’s existing electricity network, but at this stage the energy park was only at the concept stage.
“We’re at the starting gate, getting some investors on board,” Mr Spence said.
“There will be opportunity for people to object during the planning stage and they can take it to VCAT (Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal).”
Solis RE has already gained planning approval for another 93ha solar farm at Perry Bridge and is working on the design of another at nearby Fulham.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Farmers Federation has lodged its submission to the Government’s directions paper on the creation of the six new renewable energy zones calling for reforms so that farmers are not left to bear the burden of renewable energy.
The VFF is calling for legislative reforms that ensure:
LANDHOLDERS are not affected by increased legal liability and/or insurance issues.
RATES are paid by the energy producer.
ONGOING operations and biosecurity are not negatively affected by generation or management.
COMPENSATION is paid where there is an impact.
The Weekly Times understands of the biggest issues is that not only is the government encouraging more solar and wind farms through its Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme, but wants to build more transmission lines across the state to avoid capacity constraints on getting power from its REZs back to the city.
The Government has already set aside just $540 million to upgrade powerlines, condensers, battery systems, but has a myriad of other projects on the drawing board, including:
120km 220kV double circuit overhead line from Bendigo to Shepparton that will cost between $205 million to $690 million.
220kV single circuit overhead line from Shepparton to Dederang, via Glenrowan at a cost of $260m-$608 million.
500kV double circuit overhead transmission line from North Ballarat to Bulgana at a cost of $132m to $308 million, to complement the 500kV line from North Ballarat to Sydenham currently under development.
220kV double circuit overhead line from Kerang to Red Cliffs via Wemen at a cost of $308m-$720m.
125km 220kV double circuit overhead line from Murra Warra to Bulgana, via Horsham, at a cost of $170m-$396m
500kV single circuit overhead line from Mortlake to North Ballarat (~130km) at a cost of $318m-$742m.
119km 500kV double circuit overhead line from Bulgana to Mortlake at a cost of $398m-$930m
65km 500kV double circuit overhead line from Hazelwood or Loy Yang to Gippsland at a cost of $300m-$700m.
[rest of article available at source]
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