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New Upper House Committee Established to Further Investigate Underground Transmission Lines

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
13 September 2023

The NSW Upper House has just voted in support of the establishment of a committee to re-examine the issue of Underground Transmission lines after the government-dominated State Development Committee’s previous report was resoundingly rejected by all non-government members and the community.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has been appointed Chair of the Inquiry.

“The fight to ensure transmission lines will be undergrounded, in line with expert evidence, including as part of the construction of Transgrid’s Humelink will continue despite the sham inquiry controlled by Government members,” says Cate Faehrmann.

“During the previous Inquiry, every witness we heard from, bar Transgrid, opposed overhead transmission lines.

“I’m expecting that this Inquiry will be able to forensically examine the cost and benefits of undergrounding transmission lines compared to building them as overhead lines. We’ll also give much more consideration as to how to ensure transmission lines built today can withstand more frequent and extreme weather-related events, particularly floods and fires.

“It’s clear that Transgrid has no social licence to build Humelink with overhead transmission lines yet the Government controlled the numbers to produce a report that made findings and recommendations to the contrary.

“The last Inquiry felt like a sham, with the Government having clearly made up its mind before we heard from a single stakeholder. This new Inquiry, which is not controlled by government, will ensure the community’s concerns are genuinely heard and acted upon.

“Multiple witnesses gave evidence to the committee regarding the increased risk that overhead 

transmission lines pose during bushfires. This increased risk, in the face of climate change, should be reason enough for the Government to be prioritising underground transmission lines where they can.

“Unlike the government-controlled State Development Committee’s Inquiry, this won’t be undertaking a tick-and-flick exercise. That’s why we’ve established this Select Committee to examine this important issue more thoroughly and genuinely,” said Ms Faehrmann.

Terms of Reference:

  1. That the Select Committee on the further inquiry into the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects, inquire into and report on the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy projects, with particular reference to
    1. the costs, benefits and risks of underground versus overhead transmission lines, particularly with regard to bushfire and other weather-related events, ongoing environmental impacts, and community mental health and welfare,
    2. existing case studies and current projects regarding similar undergrounding of transmission lines in both domestic and international contexts, and
    3. any impact on delivery timeframes of undergrounding with broad community consensus versus overhead transmission with large scale opposition.
    4. the committee shall comprise:
      1. Cate Faehrmann MLC (Chair)
      2. Hon Wes Fang MLC (Deputy Chair)
      3. Hon Rod Roberts MLC
      4. One Opposition member selected by the Leader of the Opposition
      5. Three Government members selected by the Leader of the Government
  2. The Committee report on its findings by 31 March 2024.
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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
13 September 2023


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