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New guidelines for landholders released

AusNet Services has released comprehensive guidelines for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project (WVTNP) to provide landholders with clarity on important issues like land access, compensation and easements.

The guidelines are viewable on the project website here. 

The WVTNP is planning a new 190km transmission line from Bulgana to Sydenham, which will put downward pressure on electricity costs while providing Victorian communities with access to renewable energy.

Landholders who have a transmission line easement acquired on their property for the WVTNP will receive compensation, which is calculated by a qualified valuer in accordance with valuation principles set out in the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 (Vic) and the Valuation of Land Act 1960 (Vic).

AusNet Services will seek to enter into an agreement with each landholder along the route to acquire an easement over their land on agreed terms and for an agreed price within a certain period of time. Executive Project Director, Stephanie McGregor, said it was important that compensation was assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“Compensation is understandably a critical issue for landholders and that’s why we’ve developed these comprehensive guidelines as quickly as possible, ahead of the proposed route being determined,” Ms McGregor said.

“Calculating compensation will not be done with a blanket approach. Every landholder along the final route will be treated individually, and a range of factors and potential impacts will be taken into consideration. “Landholders will also have the option to discuss flexible payment options for agreed easement compensation, such as spreading it over a longer period.”

Assessing compensation includes a range of components including the difference between the market value of the land before the easement and after the easement, financial loss caused by disruption to the landholder or their business, and legal or professional costs.

As a part of the compensation package, AusNet will work with landholders who need to modify some farming practices to safely work under the proposed easement, by replacing equipment and machinery. Alternatives practices or micro-siting of towers can also be used to minimise impact to land operation.

Earlier this year, AusNet fast-tracked a study into the use of land and machinery height limits under the proposed transmission line, confirming that farming, including irrigated horticulture, can safely continue.

This includes operating centre-pivot and lateral moving irrigators within permitted heights under the proposed transmission lines.

Land Liaison Officers will begin contacting impacted landholders to discuss future easement requirements once a proposed route for the transmission line is determined in coming weeks.

At the same time, AusNet Services is continuing to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the project, which includes ongoing consultation with landholders and comprehensive specialist field surveys. The EES will be submitted around mid-2022 for a decision.

This project is needed to urgently reduce congestion on the existing transmission network and will help unlock up to 900 MW of new, clean electricity for Victorians.

Once complete, the additional line capacity will carry enough renewable energy to power more than 500,000 homes.

Pending the outcome of the EES process and other required approvals, construction activities are expected to begin in 2023.