Letter to Councillors/Mayor.
I am writing to you as Chairman of the Bannaby Residents Action Group (BRAG) which was formed to oppose the Transgrid HumeLink Project and its proposed route in the Bannaby area. We are not opposed to the project in whole but to the route proposed for the last 16kms into the Bannaby substation. We are seeking the cooperation of you and the Council in mediating with
TransGrid on this important matter.
By way of background, the HumeLink project is aimed at connecting SnowyHyrdo 2.0 to (amongst other things) the Bannaby substation located on Hanworth Road, Bannaby. Our properties are located to the North West of the Bannaby substation and on the other side of Hanworth and Bannaby Road. TransGrid had originally intended to run the HumeLink 500KV transmission lines, parallel to the existing 300KV transmission lines on the southern side of Bannaby Road, that pathway is already cleared and has access roads in place. Sometime in 2020/2021, a decision was made at TransGrid to change the route to cross Bannaby Road, through our properties and then dog
leg back to the substation through our properties. The following map from the HumeLink website highlights the issue. The yellow line shows TransGrid's preferred "Northern" route which doglegs from the substation and comes through our properties, through pristine forest, directly over several homesteads and premium farmland. The green "southern" route is the alternative that we have proposed which is parallel to the existing transmission lines and directly impacts significantly less
Towards the end of 2021. TransGrid contacted some but not all of the affected landholders (it seems that TransGrid do not have and haven't bothered to obtain a comprehensive list of affected properties) to say that TransGrid was now proposing to run the HumeLink through their properties and would be negotiating a 200m corridor, which would eventually be narrowed to a 70m corridor which would be acquired by TransGrid (compulsarily if necessary). This was not a consultation but an ultimatum. At no time have TransGrid been willing to negotiate the 200m corridor, only the narrowing of the 200m corridor into the 70m corridor. In the factsheet referenced above, TransGrid sets out a number of reasons why it prefers the yellow Northern route "Bannaby 3". Those reasons are factually incorrect. For example, it states "Whilst Barnaby 3 traverses a longer distance on private land than the national park option (Bannaby 1), there is no benefit gained by moving to either of the other two alternatives as they have a similar number of private landowners impacted and a greater number of residences within 500m of the line." This is simply untrue. There are significantly more residences within 500m of the line on the Bannaby 3 route than either the green or blue routes. We know because we live here.
TransGrid has come under significant criticism from the ombudsman (Mr Andrew Dyer) for its lack of community consultation. To this end, a meeting between TransGrid, BRAG and the Ombudsman at Hillismont in December 2021:
The Ombudsman (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 above). TransGrid maintained to the Ombudsman (and BRAG) that they had not made up there minds as to the relative merits of the two routes and were open to discussion. The Ombudsman (and BRAG) asked for the detailed Environmental Impact Study which TransGrid claim they had undertaken of the Northern Route (yellow line). As to points 1 and 3, I had discussions with TransGrid in early February 2022. TransGrid are unwilling to provide BRAG (or the Ombudsman) with the cost benefit analysis or the Environmental Impact study.
As to point 2, in our consultation with TransGrid, it has not been open to discussion about the proposed route. TransGrid has only just begun notifying landholders that it is proceeding with the Northern "Bannaby 3" route. I was informed by a phone call from TransGrid on Monday 28 March
2022. However, when BRAG members requested TransGrid's "most recent maps" of the impacted land following those phone calls, the maps we were provided with are all dated October 2021. It appears that TransGrid made up its mind as to the route in October 2021, 2-months before the December 2021 meeting with the Ombudsman and 5-months before telling landowners.
Further in relation to point 3, BRAG have serious doubts as to the quality of TransGrid's environmental impact study. Firstly, it appears only to have been done in relation to the Northern "Bannaby 3" route (yellow line) and not the alternate route we have proposed. We know this because members of BRAG own significant portions of the land impacted by the Southern route (green line) 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 of trees is koala habitat, the streams which their heavy machinery will need to cross is platypus habitat, that quolls live in the area as do the protected Gang Gang cockatoo. There is also rare plant life which TransGrid proposes to "sterilise". All of this is on our website and has been communicated to TransGrid. In their latest factsheet, TransGrid states that the Northern "Bannaby 3" route (yellow line) has a "lower environmental impact with a smaller area of Plant Community Types impacted" - We believe that this claim is incorrect and will not stand up to scrutiny. In particular, to make this claim, TransGrid would need to have also done comparative environmental impact studies of the other routes (green and blue lines) which it has not done as well as a proper, independent, scientifically based study of our properties which it has not done. BRAG have commissioned our own expert to conduct a proper environmental impact study of our properties to substantiate our claims, and if necessary, to be provided to the Court.
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 which falls within the ultimate 70m easement and clearing and sterilising that land. The comments made by TransGrid representatives in the past 12 months is easily characterised as bullying. duplicitous and evasive.
Due to the deterioration in the relationship between BRAG and TransGrid and TransGrid's 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 government's compulsory acquisition powers to resume our land, we will commence litigation. In the event that the 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 TransGrid's contractors to access our properties, store machinery on our property or use any of our amenities.
Other residents have had similar experiences with TransGrid and have successfully challenged TransGrid's proposed route. Those challenges have been most successful when the resident's have had Council's support. We have informed Wendy Tuckerman and Angus Taylor of the issues we face and both have met with CEO of TransGrid.
I and some of the members are happy to meet with you to give you a more detailed insight and as you see below are the links to the website and our social media:
We look forward to your reply and interest. A similar email has been sent to all councillors in the Upper Lachlan Shire.