Yesterday I attended a meeting in Loxton, SA regarding the proposed 275 kV
interconnector from Buronga, NSW to Robertstown, SA. The parties around the
table were Transgrid (the company in charge of designing and constructing);
5 or 6 farmers representatives; representatives from Bookmark Biosphere,
Dept of Environment & Heritage, and myself on behalf of the Gluepot Reserve
Management Committee and BA. Also present was local independent MP who I
believe holds the balance of power together with another independent in the
SA parliament (someone correct me if I'm wrong).
In a previous email I dated 23/05 outlined the details leading to this
The meeting was chaired by the major of Loxton-Waikerie District Council, a
farmer herself and therefore hardly objective. Despite her continuous
remarks throughout the meeting showing her disapproval of a proposed route
through the farmlands, and blatant disregard to the Black-eared Miner
research team's findings, the meeting went more reasonable than I expected
based on previous experiences with very emotional and stubborn farmers.
Apart from a few minor blowouts, they presented their cases very well and in
a civilized non-emotional manner. The main reasons presented by the farmers
against the powerline going through their land were: the towers would make
it impossible to develop
the land for irrigation with centre pivots; the towers and lines would make
aerial chemical spraying dangerous; they would make the use of helium
balloons for bird scaring dangerous; proximity of airstrips; aesthetics;
there was misconception of the
value of the mallee habitat; and powerlines crossing the river Murray was
put up as an unsubstained
Myself and the other representatives from the area affected by two possible
northern routes then presented our cases as outlined in my previous email.
This led to interesting discussion. Everyone agreed the northern route
(through Bookmark and along Gluepot's northern boundary) was not acceptable.
This left the central route which the farmers thought would be acceptable
for the northern parties. It partly follows an existing powerline through
degraded mallee used for pastoral purposes, but also through a
mallee Conservation Park. In addition it will have to go through a
floodplain/mallee reserve still untouched.
It would still affect threatened species of birds as well as lead to
fragmentation of large swathes of currently relatively undisturbed native
The outcome of the meeting was that Transgrid would meet with the relevant
state government departments to assess the feasibility of proceeding with a
feasibility study into this route. Bookmark Biosphere, Dept of Environment &
Heritage, and myself for Gluepot and BA are still opposed to this. If a
central route appears to be an option this could in time lead to an
Environmental Impact Assessment being done on it (currently only done for
the southern route through the farmlands). This would no doubt come up with
the relevant environmental arguments. This route would also bring into play
the Commonwealth Endangered Species protection act. Unless the environmental
impacts can be negated (eg undergrounding which has already been ruled out,
or rehabilitating cleared areas) the current legislation is on "our" side.
My only concern at this stage is is that it's an election year and state MP
Maywald will do all she can to influence the Commonwealth Minister
responsible, Robert Hill (also a South Australian), to perhaps bend the
In the meantime, sit back for the next episode.
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