New NSW powerline payments expected to spread interstate

Sheep Central, October 26, 2022

Power transmission lines. Image – Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

A NEW payment scheme for New South Wales farmers who host transmission lines over their farms is expected to lead to similar arrangements in other states.

The NSW Government has announced rural landowners would be paid $10,000 a year for 20 years for every kilometre of new large-scale transmission lines built on their properties – a total of $200,000, with the annual payments indexed to CPI.

The payments will be in addition to existing statutory compensation payments made under the Just Terms Act.

Independent, not-for-profit advocacy organisation RE-Alliance has welcomed the scheme as a start to reward landholders for their critical part in the energy transformation.

RE-Alliance national director Andrew Bray said New South Wales has a number of renewable energy transmission projects in the pipeline that will carry high volumes of clean power across the state to neighbouring states.

The new payment system will only apply across NSW, but RE-Alliance is urging other states to follow quickly.

“Energy ministers are set to meet at the end of the week.

“Following today’s (Tuesday’s) announcement, harmonising payments across state jurisdictions is likely to be on the agenda,” Mr Bray said.

“Some transmission lines cross state borders, and it’s simply untenable to have landholders receiving different amounts on either side.”

Mr Bray said he understood other states were working behind the scenes with the NSW Government.

“It obviously makes sense, particularly for transmission lines that are going across state borders, to have the same arrangement on either side.

“I similarly expect that across the different states that looking after transmission landholders properly is going to be important part of rolling out all this infrastructure.

“EnergyCo (The Energy Corporation of NSW) is the first cab off the rank but it gives the other states a model to follow.”

Mr Bray said by hosting transmission lines, landholders are creating value for energy consumers, and it’s important they are treated as core stakeholders and benefit materially for the role they play in our future energy system.

“Farmers hosting transmission lines on their property will now receive payments more comparable to those hosting a solar farm or wind farm.

“Proper payment for landholders is critical but on its own it won’t be enough,” he said.

“Planning new lines around the needs of local communities, effective and respectful engagement, and making sure local regional communities are treated as the key stakeholders that they are.

“Ensuring farmers and regions are beneficiaries and active participants in the process is essential for a swift and successful transition.”

NSW Farmers welcomes payments, calls for more consultation

The state’s peak agricultural body NSW Farmers said the power line payments are an important step towards recognising the losses of rural landowners.

NSW Farmers Energy Transition Working Group chair Reg Kidd said while transmission lines were a hot topic for affected landowners, these payments were an important step in recognising the impact energy infrastructure had on farmers.

“Farmers are in the box seat in moving Australia from coal to renewables, with installations and power lines set to criss-cross rural areas, and NSW Farmers has consistently called for recognition of this vital role.

“Rural landowners are key stakeholders in achieving our targets, and they deserve to be consulted and respected,” Mr Kidd said.

“These payments are welcomed to deal with the losses of our rural landowners in productivity and amenity, and for the contribution to both our state and national goals of reducing carbon emissions.”

NSW Farmers said the new payments will almost double the average payment landowners currently receive, and the rate of the payments will be calculated in the same way regardless of where a person lives to ensure all landowners are treated equitably under the scheme. Critically, payments under the scheme are separate, and in addition to, the one-off upfront compensation paid to landowners for the acquisition of transmission easements in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

Mr Kidd said government and energy companies should also still engage with rural communities early and partner with them in building new infrastructure.

“There are projects out there where farmers have been ignored or pitted against one another, and that’s not good enough, we want to see the right thing in the right place – and importantly in the right way – so we can maximise benefit and minimise impact to agricultural production.

“We will not allow this new payment scheme to be used to silence those who are concerned about their property,” he said.

Mr Kidd also said NSW Farmers had made it clear to EnergyCo that it was also important that guidelines on the placement of gridline infrastructure were adopted to address the visual impacts on landowners and communities, and on neighbouring properties.

RE-Alliance is an independent, not-for-profit advocacy organisation working to secure an energy transformation that delivers long-term benefits and prosperity to regional Australia.

Sources – RE-Alliance, NSW Farmers.


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