NSW Independents move to save Kosciuszko from 'power towers'
17th February 2021
The NSW Parliament’s four key Independents have urged the State Government to reject Transgrid’s plans to build overhead transmission lines through Kosciuszko National Park.
Independent MPs Greg Piper (Lake Macquarie), Alex Greenwich (Sydney) and Joe McGirr (Wagga Wagga) have been joined by NSW Upper House MLC Justin Field in a significant push to have the planned Snowy 2.0 transmission infrastructure buried underground.
Plans to put transmission lines on large steel lattice towers up to 75 metres high through the world-renowned Kosciuszko reserve cannot be allowed to happen, they said.
“Kosciuszko National Park is a place of significant environmental, scenic and cultural value,” they said in letters to the State’s Planning and Environment ministers.
“It supports threatened and vulnerable species, rare ecosystems, majestic landscapes and Aboriginal heritage. It is a world-class national park.”
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the towers “will not only be a visual eyesore, they will also require easements up to 200 metres wide, meaning one square kilometre of national park is to be cleared.
“Such a move could only be described as wilful vandalism,” he said.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said burying the infrastructure underground will “significantly reduce the project’s environmental impacts and there are various ways of doing this”.
“Overhead transmission lines, and the subsequent destruction of the Kosciuszko National Park, would be a permanent stain on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project,” Mr Greenwich said.
Independent MLC Justin Field said there are alternatives to overhead transmission lines.
“Those options can still work while protecting the values of the National Park, and that’s what all levels of Government should be working towards,” he said.
“The planning system is failing if it allows for the destruction of the unique ecological values of one of our most iconic and treasured National Parks.”
Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr added: “Our communities should know that all options have been considered.
“The consultation process should also be respectful, open and transparent.”
Any additional costs incurred from undergrounding transmission infrastructure must be assessed in the context of significant long-term savings from lower maintenance and higher reliability, without risks from bushfires or lightning, the Independents’ letter said.
“The recent ‘black summer’ bushfires took out the connection between NSW and Victoria and burnt electrical equipment in the Snowies, causing tens of millions in damages and losses from constrained generation. Overhead lines also threaten to complicate fire-fighting efforts by interfering with road and air operations.
“We implore the NSW Government to direct TransGrid to underground the transmission infrastructure for the Snowy 2.0 project.”