Power line placement for new wind farm near Biloela will impact cropping operations, farmers sa
Credit: Megan Hughes | 6 Dec 2022 | abc.net.au ~~
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When farmer Laurie Brosnan stands in his paddocks and looks up, instead of clear blue skies he sees a tapestry of powerlines laced through hulking steel transmission towers that is set to expand.
On the outskirts of Biloela, south of Rockhampton in central Queensland, energy provider Powerlink is preparing to connect the region’s new wind farm to the grid.
The preferred transmission tower corridor for the Banana Range Wind Farm project runs through Mr Bosnan’s prime cropping land.
He and other farmers are concerned their efforts to become more environmentally sustainable will be undermined by the renewable energy project.
But Powerlink, which is owned by the state government, said the route chosen had the lowest impact on landholders, who would be compensated for lost land and impact to operations.
GPS equipment impacted
Darren Jensen’s family has farmed at Mount Murchison, on the outskirts of Biloela, for 70 years.
Soon, his grain crop could be sharing the land with transmission towers connecting the Banana Range Wind Farm to the Callide Power Station.
“We’re having these transmission lines forced upon us [that will] go through our prime, strategic cropping land, ” he said.
“We’ve got GPS equipment with variable planting rates – none of this works efficiently when you’re going underneath powerlines.
“[The] GPS drops out [and] we can’t apply crop protection products by aerial application, because they won’t go where these high voltage power lines [are].”
Betta Pork director Mr Brosnan also grows grain to sell and feed to his pigs.
He said not being able to use the latest technology could set back efforts to reduce the environmental impact of his crops.
“That means we can’t continue sustainable farming and improving our sustainability, through irrigation,” he said.
“Physically those irrigators don’t go around transmission lines.”
Power lines from the nearby Callide Power Station already cross Mr Brosnan’s property, but Powerlink’s plans could see more transmission lines on his land.
Lowest impact corridor
The Banana Range Wind Farm Project will be about 20 kilometres west of Biloela and comprises 51 wind turbines and large-scale battery storage.
While EDF Renewables are the developers of the wind farm, Powerlink has been commissioned to build transmission towers to connect it to the electricity grid.
Powerlink’s delivery and technical solutions executive general manager Ian Lowry said the selected connection route – the Northern One Corridor – was one of three options explored.
“Of any of the corridors assessed [it has] the lowest impact on strategic cropping land,” Mr Lowry said.
“It’s a kilometre wide, we have to … identify an easement that’s 60 metres wide for the actual transmission line itself.
“That process is really [about] working with landholders on the specifics of where that easement would go, and the placement of transmission lines and structures within that easement.
“We’re certainly very, very keen for more landholder and community feedback.”
Compensation on offer
Mr Lowry said landholders would be offered compensation that took into account the impact on land values and operations, and that the corporation was reviewing its current compensation framework.
He said the process of reviewing the fairness its compensation arrangements would include landholder representatives over the next six months.
But Mr Jensen said the compensation offered to impacted landholders like himself was inadequate.
“It’s a bit like getting a stubby and a Christmas card at Christmas time,” he said.
“We would rather not have them at all, rather than have any compensation.”
Landholders are also worried Powerlink will force them to give up land via compulsory land acquisition.
But Mr Lowry said that was not the preferred option.
“Our first priority in every respect is to both negotiate the location of the transmission line on the easement and the compensation amounts with landholders,” he said.
“Being perfectly up-front, we have resumption powers under the Acquisition of Land Act and Electricity Act.”
A spokesperson for EDF Renewables said the company would continue to work closely with Powerlink and the wider community as the transmission line project was developed.
“Our input into the designing and construction of the transmission lines is very limited and is the responsibility of Powerlink,” the spokesperson said.
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