Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell has urged the government to take the time to get the planning and community consultation associated with the Hunter Transmission Project right, rather than fast-tracking its construction.
The project is a vital link in the state's clean energy transition and will transfer renewable energy from the New England and Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zones to homes and businesses in the Hunter, Sydney and the Illawarra.
An infrastructure project of this scale would normally take the best part of a decade to go from consultation to construction, however, the government insists the transmission line be operational by early 2028.
EnergyCo is working with 80 landholders along the proposed route, which incorporates a combination of mining and industrial land, state forest and private property.
Landowners who host transmission infrastructure will receive increased payments under the state's Strategic Benefit Payments scheme.
Mr Layzell said it was essential that the planning and consultation process be allowed to run its course without putting pressure on landholders.
"Infrastructure projects can sometimes require the benefits of us all to be borne by just a few. We need to understand their issues, mitigate impact where possible and compensate where necessary," he said.
"I fiercely reject any proposals by the federal or state government that wish to fast track transmission and renewable energy projects.
"We have a robust planning system but these projects should not be given any preferential treatment or short cuts within the system."
Between Bayswater and Broke, the corridor runs mostly through land owned by power stations and mining companies.
It then heads into the Pokolbin, Corrabare and Olney State forests (which are primarily used for growing commercial and native timber), before following the existing 500 kV transmission line through Martinsville and Cooranbong to Eraring.
Hunter Community Environment Centre coordinator Johanna Lynch said the group was carefully studying the preliminary route map and and it's potential environmental impacts.
"If it has impacts on Pokolbin that are hard to bear we will be proposing some other offsets to ensure there are significant gains for the Hunter," she said.
"We empathise with the people who will be disturbed. We hope that EnergyCo comes to the table in good faith to achieve a good outcome for the Hunter."
The proposed route will remain on public exhibition until Monday, 18th December 2023.
For details about the project and consultation, visit: energyco.nsw.gov.au/htp
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