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Buloke Calls For Better Lines of Consultation on VNI West Project

Buloke Calls for Better Lines of

Consultation on VNI West Project

Publish Date: 11 May 2023

Buloke Shire Council has publicly expressed its concern about the consultation processes in relation to the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) Project and called for the project to be suspended.

The project proposes to build a new high-capacity 500 kilovolt (kV) double-circuit overhead transmission line, providing a connection between the Western Renewables Link in Victoria and EnergyConnect in New South Wales with the project potentially running though parts of Buloke Shire to an identified connection point at Bulgana in neighbouring Northern Grampians Shire.

A Notice of Motion was passed at its May Council Meeting resolving to write to the Minister for Climate Action, Energy and Resources and the State Electricity Commission the Hon. Lily D'Ambrosio MP as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Daniel Westerman.

Council will implore each of them to better consult with the community in a genuine and deliberative manner, ensuring transparency is at the forefront of all consultation and to listen in a genuine and sympathetic manner to the concerns of the community and relevant subject matter experts and respond in a respectful and considered fashion.

Council also moved a second item on the matter as Urgent Business during the meeting to again advocate to Minister D’Ambrosio to suspend the installation of the VNI West Project within the Buloke Shire and implore her to consult in a genuine and open manner to those to be potentially impacted by the installation of the proposed project.

The consultation on the VNI West Project has been subject much derision in the region with several neighbouring Councils already on the record on the subject.

Mayor Cr Alan Getley who has attended several community meetings as well as briefings and meetings with AEMO has been underwhelmed by the handling of the consultation process by AEMO and critical of their disregard of critical feedback.

“Council, like our community, have been incredibly frustrated with the lack of transparency and disregard for people’s emotions and interests during the consultative process. From late withdrawals at community meetings to sending underprepared non subject matter experts to talk directly to communities, each step of this process has been a failure,” he said.

“We call upon the Minister and AEMO to lift their game and properly inform and consult communities on this project. It is one of the biggest rural energy infrastructure projects for generations that would drastically alter the landscape if it passed through our Shire with seemingly no economic advantage to us, just social detriment”.