A YEAR-long battle to preserve prime agricultural land from a corridor of power lines has been one by a community of dedicated producers.
Members of the Merriwa-Cassillis Alliance were told by Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell at a community meeting last week at the Merriwa RSL that the proposed transmission line study corridor for the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) had been moved.
Designed to link the state government's REZ to metropolitan areas, the original corridor's route was slated to go through farming land across the region.
However, after more than a year of lobbying from the group of mixed primary producers, the state government announced it had revised the route to sit largely on public lands and pre-existing mining land to limit the impact on producers.
"The route across the plateau has now been taken off the table," Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell told the crowd of locals.
"Wherever possible, the transmission line is now planned to run through public land and disturbed mining land and it will greatly reduce the impact on farmers."
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Alliance president Peter Campbell said he was pleased the group's suggested alternative routes for the corridor, which stretches from Merriwa to Cassilis, Dunedoo and towards Wellington, were heard.
"It is such a relief that the NSW Government have genuinely listened and responded to our communities' recommendations," Mr Campbell said.
"We are extremely grateful that the location of this revised study corridor is within the REZ where it best fits the land use.
"Unfortunately, there will always be some landowners impacted negatively with these projects. We hope there is a more fair and just compensation plan from the NSW Government for those landowners that don't host renewable generators yet have to cope the transmission lines."
The revised study corridor is slated to run from the Wollar substation west to three energy hubs at Elong Elong, Merotherie and Uarbry.
TransGrid was initially responsible for the corridor but NSW Government statutory authority EnergyCo, which hopes to finalise the route by the middle of the year, subject to landholder consultation.
Alliance secretary Heidi Inder said the group was delighted with the outcome.
"This announcement makes the Merriwa-Cassilis community feel heard and our agricultural economy valued," Mrs Inder said.
"We would particularly like to thank our local MP for the Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell and the NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy, Matt Kean for their support."
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