Central-West Orana REZ transmission lines consultation process ‘farcical’: Inquiry Chair
The Chair of the newly established NSW Upper House Select Committee on the Feasibility of Undergrounding the Transmission Infrastructure for Renewable Energy Projects, Cate Faehrmann MLC, has condemned the Government’s commencement of compulsory acquisition processes in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) prior to receiving planning approval for the project.
“It is unconscionable for EnergyCo to notify landholders that their properties will be compulsorily acquired as soon as November when their project hasn’t even received planning approval,” says Ms Faehrmann.
“The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was only lodged yesterday and the community will only have 28 days to make objections. Not only is this a ridiculously short turnaround for an 8,000 page document, but to be sending out compulsory acquisition notices at this stage is indicative of just how farcical the consultation process has become for projects declared ‘state significant infrastructure’.
“EnergyCo progressing to compulsory acquisition despite not expecting a planning decision until mid-2024 makes a mockery of the state’s entire planning process. If this is how all the REZs are going to be undertaken, the Government needs to do better to ensure these projects have the social licence needed to enable them to progress swiftly.
“The Committee is planning a visit to Central-West Orana as soon as we are able to understand the impact transmission lines will have on the area. We are doing the community consultation that a project like this needs because clearly the Government isn’t.
“I’m calling on the Government and EnergyCo to immediately pause any works or compulsory acquisitions for the Central-West Orana transmission lines. I’m also urging the Independent Planning Commission to extend the consultation period of the project’s EIS exhibition,” said Cate Faehrmann.