There were several impassioned presentations at town hall last night about the potential impact of a transmission line project, in a situation one councillor compared to that of Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle.
Cr Des Hudson drew the link after the series of in-person submissions from farmers in the region, each outlining the personal impact Western Victoria Transmission Network Project could have on them.
""Their homes, their land, their farms are their castle to a degree but the livelihood of the area," Cr Hudson said. "These are the people that are losing sleep. These are the stories we need the politicians to hear. We need to look at the better solution."
"We need to become really creative about the way we make some noise before it's too late."
Along with Cr Hudson, several councillors had strong words of condemnation for how the process has been undertaken - while all of them backed the notion of improving access to the vast renewable energy infrastructure being created in the state.
Cr Belinda Coates said the transmission line was "absolutely needed."
"That is what was so disappointing about the process," she said.
"It really misses that social and environmental impact. We need to be advocating clearly for that. I think our officers will be in a position to form an approach."
I am very concerned about the economic impact. I know I would be beside myself if I was living in that particular areaThe mayor Cr Daniel Moloney
Councillors unanimously backed the council motion to advocate that the company overseeing the project look into a solution which would potentially lessen the economic impact by transmitting the lines underground.
The recommendation also pushed for existing easements to be used.
The motion reiterated that council "fully supports" the push for renewable energy as well as "the need for its transmission into the electricity network."
The transmission line would start at Bulgana near Stawell, and would stretch around 190 kilometres to Sydenham in north-western Melbourne.
The mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said it would affect from 30 to 50 landowners in the northern part of City of Ballarat local government area. The project has also faces strong protests in surrounding municipalities, in particular Moorabool Shire, with more residents affected.
"I think council has been a bit too late to this," Cr Moloney said. "I am very concerned about the economic impact. I know I would be beside myself if I was living in that particular area."
Ballarat City Council is not a planning decision maker for the project but had not previously taken a public position on it.
The company overseeing the project is Ausnet Services, which was appointed in December 2019.
It is one of the most significant electricity infrastructure projects in the state, which its proponents hope will allow Victoria to maximise its rapidly expanding renewable energy capacity.
The resolution in full was that council:
- Fully supports renewable energy and the need for its transmission into the electricity network;
- Advocates for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project Environmental Effects Statement process to properly consider underground methods of power transmission and use underground options wherever possible;
- Advocates for the transmission line route to use existing road, rail and electricity easements wherever possible.
SOLDIERS HILL PARKING
No work will be carried out on controversial car parking works in Soldiers Hill until more talks with residents have taken place.
That was the commitment by the City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King, after the first in a series of question times submissions querying the spending, as well as the impact on the heritage and environment of the plan.
The works, which include formalising existing car parks, were approved by councillors last August as part of a $2million state government investment to provide replacement to replace lost car parks at the Civic Hall site.
An online petition by local Soldiers Hill residents protesting against the works has now gathered more than 360 signatures.
Consultation would be held next Tuesday, Mr King said.
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