Wednesday, 21 June 2023
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has welcomed the State Government’s announcement of a parliamentary inquiry into the feasibility of undergrounding new electricity transmission infrastructure in regional NSW, after pushing for the issue to be seriously considered last month and again this week.
Mr Marshall said people across the Northern Tablelands and New England regions had been raising their concerns about the impact large industrial-scale transmission lines would have on the landscape, environment and agricultural production and he’s pleased the government has finally acknowledged them and taken some action.
He is also urging the inquiry committee to visit the region to see and hear for themselves the concerns locals have about the proposed transmission lines.
“As I said in the Parliament a fortnight ago, the government must look seriously at undergrounding sections of these new lines to avoid land use conflicts, loss of biodiversity and impacts on people’s amenity and existing industries, such as agriculture,” Mr Marshall said.
“It shouldn’t have taken speeches on the floor of parliament, nor my motion yesterday calling for the establishment of an inquiry to investigate the feasibility of undergrounding for the government to listen and act, but I’m glad it has and the inquiry is very welcome news.
According to the Minister for Energy, the Legislative Council inquiry report on the feasibility of undergrounding transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects by the end of August, with particular reference to:
• the costs and benefits of undergrounding;
• existing case studies and current projects regarding similar undergrounding of transmission lines in both domestic and international contexts;
• any impact on delivery timeframes of undergrounding, and
• any environmental impacts of undergrounding.
The State Development Committee of the Legislative Council is yet to formally commence the inquiry and Mr Marshall is urging upper house MPs to get cracking as time is fast running out.
“With a 31 August deadline, it is essential this inquiry be stood up today to ensure people in our region and other parts of the state have as much time as possible to have their say,” Mr Marshall said.
“I’ll be writing to the committee chair today requesting that the committee visit our region to take evidence as part of its inquiry as no one wants to see this become a ‘clayton’s inquiry’ that never leaves Sydney, yet makes recommendations about such a serious matter impacting regional NSW exclusively.
“People across the region are telling me loud and clear they want these new large-scale public infrastructure assets placed on public land.
“We have no shortage of parcels of public land in the broader New England region and that should be the first preference this inquiry looks at, with the use of private land only considered where there is no other option available.
“No one is suggesting we underground all of the hundreds of kilometres of new transmission lines required to be built, but where it impacts heavily on existing industries and the lives of local residents, we should put them underground as has been done in other parts of the state.”