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A letter to The Hon. (Matt) Matthew John KEAN

Dear Mr Kean,
I am writing to you as chairman of the Bannaby Residents Action Group in relation to Transgrids HumeLink project in the Bannaby area. We are seeking your cooperation in mediating with Transgrid on this important matter. We are not opposed to HumeLink as a project but to the route and process that has been applied to the last 16kms at the northern end at Bannaby, NSW. By way of background, our properties are located to the Northwest of Bannaby substation which is the northern connection point of the HumeLink project as it is proposed. All of us are north of the Bannaby and Hanworth roads. Transgrid had originally considered the option to run the HumeLink 500KV line parallel to the existing 330KV line to the south of Bannaby/Hanworth Road(Bannaby 1 route). That path is already cleared and has machinery access roads in place. Sometime in 2020/2021 a decision was made in Transgrid to change the route for the last 16kms to go north across Bannaby road away from the existing lines and circle back across the Hanworth Road into the Bannaby substation. (Bannaby 3 route).The attached fact sheet from Transgrid can be used to identify this. Transgrid has had significant complaints registered with the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer for its lack of community consultation. To this end a meeting was convened on 5th December, 2021 involving Transgrid, AEIC and BRAG members held at Hillasmount at Bannaby. https://www.transgrid.com.au/media/fh1npnsp/03-transgrid_a4_factsheet_humelink-_-route-selection_bannaby_01-04-2022.pdf 1. Andrew Dyer (and BRAG) asked Transgrid to provide a cost benefit analysis of the comparison of the two possible routes, Yellow and green lines in the map on the fact sheet. 2. Transgrid maintained to Andrew Dyer and BRAG that they had not made up their minds as to relative merits of the two routes and were open to discussions. 3. Andrew Dyer and BRAG asked for Transgrid to provide the Ecological and Cultural heritage surveys which Transgrid claim they have undertaken for the Northern Route(Yellow line). In fact, Transgrid offered these to be provided to individual property owners. As to points 1 & 3 I had discussions with Transgrid in early February 2022. Transgrid maintained that they were unwilling to provide BRAG or you with the Cost benefit analysis or ecological studies requested. I also met online with Transgrid CEO Brett Redman and members of the executive and project team in early May 2022. Again, I requested these things be provided and they have rejected those requests. As to point 2, in our consultation with Transgrid, there has been no open discussion about any alternative route other than their proposed route, Bannaby 3 to the north. Transgrid has only just begun notifying landholders, without prior consultation, that it was proceeding with the northern route Bannaby 3. I was informed of this by a phone call on Monday 28th March, 2022. However, when BRAG members requested Transgrids “most recent maps” of the impacted land following these phone calls, the maps we were provided are all dated October 2021. It appears that Transgrid made up its mind prior to October 2021, two months before the 5/12/21 meeting with Andrew Dyer and 5 months before notifying landholders. Further in relation to point 3, BRAG have serious concerns as to the quality of Transgrids Ecological studies. Firstly it appears only to have been done on the proposed Bannaby 3 northern route and not the alternate route we have proposed Bannaby 1. We know this because members of BRAG own significant portions of the land on the Bannaby 1 route, and other portions are owned by our friends and neighbours. Secondly we are particularly aggrieved that Transgrid were “unaware” that the area they propose to clear has streams running through it that their heavy machinery will need to cross, these streams have platypus in them. Quolls live in the area as do the protected Gang Gang Cockatoos. There is an abundance of rare plant life in the area that Transgrid intend to “sterilise” during construction of their towers. All of this information is on our website and has been communicated to Transgrid. In their latest factsheet (attached), Transgrid states that the Bannaby 3, northern route has a “lower environmental impact with a smaller area of plant community types impacted” and also “lower environmental impact is also illustrated by its materially lower biodiversity offset cost”. We believe that these claims are incorrect and will not stand up to scrutiny. In particular, to make this claim, Transgrid would have needed to also do comparative ecological studies of both proposed routes which it has not done. BRAG has commissioned its own independent Ecological studies to conduct a proper assessment of our properties to substantiate our claims. And if necessary, to be provided as evidence to the courts. Transgrid is a 100% foreign owned entity. They have threatened multiple members of our group with compulsory acquisition, including threatening to demolish houses, sheds, and infrastructure that falls within the ultimate 70m easement and clearing and sterilising that land. The comments made by Transgrid representatives over the last 12 months is easily characterized by bullying, duplicitous and evasive and are clearly in breach of the way Australians are encouraged by your government to do business. Other residents along the HumeLink project have had similar experiences with Transgrid and have successfully challenged Transgrids proposed route. Those challenges have been most successful when they have the support of the local council, local member and the forum of public opinion. We have informed Wendy Tuckerman, Angus Taylor and AEIC Andrew Dyer of the issues we face and the position we have taken with Transgrid. I and some of our members are happy to meet with you and give you a more detailed insight, below are the links to our website and social media. https://www.brag.group/ https://www.instagram.com/brag_group/ Due to the deterioration in the relationship between BRAG and Transgrid and Transgrids unwillingness to engage in meaningful consultation, all members of BRAG have informed Transgrid that they would be locking their gates and future access to their properties would be denied to Transgrid. If Transgrid attempts to use the governments compulsory acquisition powers to resume our land, we will commence litigation. In the event that HumeLink proceeds on the route proposed by Transgrid, as a group we will refuse to negotiate any leases of the surrounding land which would permit Transgrids contractors to access our properties, store machinery on our property or use any of our amenities. I, on behalf of the group wish to register the strongest complaint and ask that you intercede and mediate. Sent as Chairman and on behalf of all members of the Bannaby Residents Action Group for Humelink.
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