VICTORIAN landholders will be paid $8000 per kilometre paid annually for 25 years to host new power transmission lines across their land, with payments indexed to the Consumer Price Index.
The Andrews government’s announcement today follows New South Wales last year awarding $10,000 a year indexed for 20 years for every kilometre of new large-scale transmission lines built on properties.
But the Victorian Farmers Federation and Farmers for Climate Action indicated there was still some concern about State Government policy and farmers’ rights in relation to transmission lines.
The Victorian Government decision has been welcomed by community advocacy organisation, RE-Alliance and environmental justice group Friends of the Earth. RE-Alliance national director Andrew Bray said at this stage only Victoria and NSW have announced payment schemes, but understood all the other states are giving similar schemes “active consideration.”
“We’re pleased to see that Victorian landholders will now enjoy the benefits of hosting transmission lines, like their counterparts in NSW.
“We have advocated for increased landholder payments because everyone should benefit from the renewable energy transformation, especially communities that host the infrastructure for it,” he said.
“By hosting transmission lines, landholders are creating value; they are core stakeholders in our clean and reliable renewable energy systems.
“Proper payment for landholders is crucial but it’s not a silver bullet,” Mr Bray said.
“Transmission companies need to listen to and understand the needs of the local community and the environment.”
RE-Alliance said the announcement will bring economic benefits to thousands of Victorian landholders and their families, with the transition to renewable energy delivering long-term benefits for local communities through jobs and economic growth.
More to be done to deliver community benefits – Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth said the Victorian decision is a sign the government is beginning to hear and respond to community concerns about new transmission infrastructure that will be critical to connect new wind and solar projects to the grid.
However, the group said there is more to be done to deliver real community benefits and protections for the natural environment as transmission is rolled out.
“It is essential that communities are supported to participate in planning transmission and this must be coordinated by government, it cannot be left to the private sector,” Friends of the Earth Gippsland organiser Wendy Farmer said.
Friends of the Earth said it has been consulting with regional communities in Gippsland to understand their interests and concerns about transmission, and learn about what is needed to make sure transmission is done properly.
Gippsland farmer Ursula Alquier said it’s no surprise communities are concerned about the large buildout of transmission infrastructure in Victoria and it’s absolutely critical the government gets its landholder and community benefits strategy right early on.
“This is a step in the right direction and now we need the government to deliver stronger community benefits and coordinate engagement on the ground”
With the Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028, Friends of the Earth said a proper plan for community engagement needs to be matched with real protections for the environment.
“Communities need to be involved in the decision-making process about where transmission is built and that includes protecting the beautiful environment that we all love and care for,” Ms Farmer said.
Today’s announcement of landholder payments comes shortly after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a redesign of the VNI West transmission line accounting for social and environmental values.
VFF seeks clarification on farmers’ rights
The Victorian Farmers Federation has demanded the Victorian Government urgently clarify the rights of farmers set to be impacted by the huge expansion of Victoria’s electricity transmission infrastructure.
VFF president Emma Germano said farmers deserved the right to a fair compensation process and access to any documents that determine the transmission process as well as avenues to appeal transmission lines on their private property.
“We’re demanding the Victorian government urgently clarify on what grounds farmers can appeal, how they can gain access to the materials needed to appeal and who they will appeal to.
“Regulatory oversight must be independent and transparent,” she said.
“The future of farmers and communities along the hundreds of kilometres of new powerlines is incredibly unclear.
“We need to know whether the government has decided to steamroll through these projects and what that means.”
Ms Germano said despite numerous meetings with the Victorian Government, including as recently as this week, farmers and the community remained in a perilous position.
“The VFF has been calling on decision makers to prepare for the gradual and fair transition to renewable energy and infrastructure since 2019.”
Farmers should have right of refusal – FCA
Farmers for Climate Action welcomed the Victorian Government’s decision but strategy director Cam Klose said farmers who do not wish to have transmission on their land should have the right to refuse.
“While we are still waiting to see more detail, it is definitely a step in the right direction and we hope will help ease community concerns over the build-out of transmission infrastructure.
“To ensure continued community support for the renewable energy build-out, we will continue to advocate new transmission infrastructure following existing major infrastructure, such as freeways and rail lines, as much as possible.”
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