Questions over 205km power line

THE Federal Government will next week decide whether to investigate if TransGrid’s proposed 205km high-voltage transmission line linking Lismore to Dumaresq, west of Tenterfield, ‘substantially’ breaches environment protection laws.

The period for public comment closed yesterday and a Federal Department of Environment spokeswoman said the Government would now decide if the proposal should be approved or required further investigation.

TransGrid announced last October that the 60-metre wide corridor to house the 330 kilovolt line would run roughly along the route of the Bruxner Highway, skirting south of Casino before connecting with the Lismore substation.

However, according to the company’s submission, the route will run through the habitat of 86 endangered and vulnerable species, including the critically endangered peppered frog.

TransGrid project manager Denis Novakovic said the company was currently undertaking an environmental assessment that would address these concerns. It is due to be completed by June.

The need for the upgraded $227 million transmission line will also come under the spotlight at tomorrow night’s Lismore City Council meeting, where Cr Simon Clough plans to move a motion asking TransGrid to go back to the drawing board.

“The motion doesn’t propose that council request TransGrid stop its project, but to review the need for it and the scale of it from social, economic and environmental perspectives,” he said.

“The central issue is the validity of Country Energy’s projection of 46 per cent growth in electricity demand over 10 years.”

However, Mr Novakovic stands by TransGrid’s estimates, as supplied by Country Energy.

Although he wasn’t available for comment yesterday, a spokeswoman pointed to his response in the council business papers.

“TransGrid is aware that based on data from the Department of Planning the population of the far north of NSW will increase in excess of 20pc over the next 20 years, and time series demand data supports a point-to-point increase in (power) demand of about 40pc,” he wrote.

“TransGrid has no evidence to suggest the demand forecast provided by Country Energy is inaccurate.”

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