Yass Valley Greens Councillor Adrian Cameron gave notice at the October Ordinary Council Meeting asking why overhead powerlines are the preferred option to underground powerlines from Snowy 2.0. Cr Cameron put his motion forward, “That Yass Valley Council immediately write to local, State and Federal representatives, Wendy Tuckerman and Kristy McBain about why powerlines fromSnowy 2.0 are to be overhead rather than underground given potentially serious negative environmental impacts and fire risks and what implications does this decision have for HumeLink, particularly for Yass Valley and our farmers, landowners, and fire services and their volunteers?”

Humelink Corridor proposed by TransGrid in 2021

Concerned long-standing Yass Resident, 83-year-old Nan Betts (pictured above) spoke at the open forum in support of the motion for underground powerlines, with the HumeLink project currently set to run across her property, including the pristine waterfall area Nan and her daughter Mary-Jane are hoping to turn into an eco-tourism venture, which the HumeLink project would completely devastate. Betts’ property is located on Black Range Road in Yass, opposite the service centre.

“I am absolutely against the overhead powerlines. The implications for us have been set so firmly by TransGrid. They can’t consider anyone coming on-site, such as the engineers, for us to show them a better line. They’ve refused to do that,” Betts said.

“You’ve got to look at it from the long-term point of view. They’d have been very much wiser if they had come in the first place and seen we have a clear direction we can offer them, part on our place and part on a boundary with two other neighbours. But the destruction would be much less.

“We share the creek with two other properties and on our property we have the waterfall, that’s what we’re trying to protect.There’s the potential destruction of the waterfall which they seem to be going right over the top of it. To do that, they have to take away a lot of vegetation and trees that we’ve had there for all the natural habitats.“

“We’re up to the sixth generation of family living on this property. It’s not just the destruction of the initial establishment, but they’ve got to come in every year after for the maintenance of it. I think people’s arguments are now mounting that the cost of ongoing maintenance will add up.“

“Since that meeting, the people who would be affected by the overhead powerlines have been offered $10,000 per kilometre annually for 20 years. I think it’s the wrong way to come at it,” Mrs Betts stressed.

Yass Valley Council General Manager Chris Berry commented on the HumeLink project in the meeting discussion.

“The HumeLink project is still in its preliminary stages. While the scoping Report for the project has been lodged with the Department of Planning & Environment and the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements issued for the format and content of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the proponent, Transgrid, have not yet finalised their application,” General Manager Berry said.

“The decision-makers for this project will be the Department of Planning & Environment/Independent Planning Commission.“

“The preliminary consultation (including the establishment of Community Consultative Committees) undertaken for the project identified an issue as to whether the transmission lines should be overhead or underground.“

“It is understood that this issue came from discussions at the Community Consultative Committee meeting held – Cr Cameron is Council’s representative on the Yass and Upper Lachlan Community Consultative Committee.“ Transgrid examined this issue and prepared a report but no decision to my knowledge has been made by the proponent nor has any report on this investigation been uplifted to the Major Project Portal for wider consideration by the public.”

Council resolved an amended motion that:

1. Council writes to our Federal Member and pose an open question for candidates in the upcoming NSW election seeking their position statement and support to advocate for undergrounding power lines for the Humelink Project to protect the interests of farmers, landowners, volunteer firefighting service personnel and the environment.

2. Write to the Department of Planning seeking their support for the undergrounding of powerlines for the Humelink Project. (Cameron/Reid)

For: Councillors J Abbey, CBurgess, K Butler, A Cameron,J Jones, A McGrath, M Reid and K Turner.Against: Councillor C Pothan.

Tim Warren