Significant Habitat Will be Destroyed

Environmental impacts not only include our views and our habitats but also the habitats of animals, birds, bees, and the rest of nature, usually relied upon for correcting our impacts and pollution.  Having these detrimental effects on the welfare of these natural habitats will not only impact our local environments but may potentially impact environments at a regional, national and global level if species are put at risk.  Impacts on wildlife habitats can take many forms:

transmission line ‘right-of-ways’

Transmission Line ‘right-of-ways’

The first of these is the effect of physical disturbance or destruction of natural land and air habitats. Clearing of trees, shrubs, and other plant growth areas (as required for transmission line ‘right-of-ways’), are extensive and impact large areas.

Habitats in these areas are never able to recover to their original state because of the need to ensure ongoing accessibility to infrastructure for security, repairs, and maintenance. This generally results in permanent damage to, or loss of, significant plant and animal species from the area.

wedge tailed eagle death

Bird Deaths and Overhead Transmission Lines

Bird deaths associated with overhead transmission lines have been reported for more than 100 years (Coues 1876, Cohen 1896, Emerson 1904). A 2014 literature review (by Public Library of Science) of available data showed an estimated 12-64 million birds killed each year in USA alone from strikes with transmission lines and from electrocution.

A similar range of deaths was also found for Canada. These numbers are much higher than deaths attributed to wind turbines and communication towers/lines. Some electricity transmission companies in the USA have been fined large sums for adversely effecting animal and bird populations (e.g. Bald and Golden-Eagle deaths – Moon Lake Electric Association, 1999). Similarly, Australian bird (e.g. eagle, hawk, falcon, cockatoo, etc.,) populations, are also at significant physical and health associated risks from transmission lines and towers. TasNetwork’s (Tasmanian Government owned Electricity Transmission and Distribution company) annual report showed that 29 Tasmanian wedged-tail eagles (which are endangered in Tasmania with only 350 mating pairs in the state), were killed with strikes to electricity infrastructure in 2017-2018. A Goshawk and white-bellied sea eagle were also killed.

Sterilisation of Rich Farming and Bushland

Sterilisation of Rich Farming and Bushland

Effects on natural habitats, biodiversity and wildlife safety: These towers will have a detrimental impact on indigenous flora and fauna, specifically the protected and endangered species including kangaroos, wedge-tailed eagles, black cockatoos, kookaburras, echidnas, falcons, sulphur-crested cockatoos and many more native animals. red by having land covered by trees and or grassland.

Landowners take great pride to ensure properties work in harmony with nature through safeguarding biodiversity practices (planting native trees and land care measures) producing a positive green effect. The sterilisation of this rich farming and bushland will do harm to our environment. The pathway for this transmission line will expose great swaths of land and will aid in accelerating more carbon in the atmosphere. The Victorian government is working hard to ensure carbon in sequeste

Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

It is well documented that overhead high voltage power lines produce Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) that impact significantly on the immune systems, hormones, behaviour and fertility of birds, animals, and bees.

Impacts of EMFs from overhead high voltage transmission lines on man-made environments like farms is also widely reported with health and productivity effects recorded for: pets, cows, pigs, bees, and crops. Large compensation payments have been awarded to farmers whose livestock suffered increased mortality, disease and reduced yields because of EMFs generated by overhead high voltage transmission lines (e.g., France 2008).

Social Impact

Lerderderg State Park

The Lerderderg State Park encompasses scenic and geological gorge formations surrounding the Lerderderg River as well as the volcanic cone of Mount Blackwood. The park is known for its remote setting and the 300m deep Lerderderg River gorge is a dominant feature. Private land abuts the park to the south. The narrow corridor between private land and the park represents the AoI.

The community is concerned of the amenity impacts the transmission lines will have on these natural landscapes and the negative impact that will have on the State and Regionally significant landscapes and views that were identified in the South West Landscape Assessment Study (Planisphere, 2012).

The South West Landscape Assessment Study Describes the Lerderderg as…

This landscape is iconic as a wild and rugged place within the context of the broader regional landscape, in close proximity to Melbourne.

The distinctive rock formations and contrast in vegetation patterns of the gorge is iconic and scarce within the local context.

The composition of views and landscape elements within the Park are iconic in the context of the immediate location. Panoramic views of the broader landscape from Mount Blackwood are exceptional.

Swift Parrot

Threatened Fauna

Based on an appraisal of records and potential and known habitats in the area, eight threatened fauna species are considered to have a moderate to high potential to occur within or directly surrounding the AoI. These species are:

Curlew, Sandpiper, Swift Parrot, Australian Painted-snipe, Growling Grass Frog, Golden Sun Moth, Small Golden Moth, Spotted-tailed Quoll and Striped Legless Lizard.

Fauna

The Lerderderg is a haven for koalas, eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and echidnas. Nocturnal animals include the greater glider, mountain brushtail possum and bent-wing bat.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos nest in the gorge and fly out to feed in the open grasslands. The area’s most spectacular predator, the wedge-tailed eagle, nests in tall trees in gullies. Other birds to be seen are black cokcatoos, white-naped honeyeaters, white-throated tree creepers, crimson rosellas, gang-gang cockatoos, the superb lyrebird and large forest owls such as the powerful owl.

High voltage transmission lines are known killers of wedge-tailed eagles and other raptors.

Flora

A range of vegetation types, including a riparian Blue Gum and Manna Gum community of State significance and 23 significant plant species present in Lerderderg State Park, together with nine significant animal species.

Cinnamon Fungus

The invasive Cinnamon Fungus has been recorded at a number of sites within the Park. The fungus seriously affects native vegetation and causes the death of susceptible species. The disease spreads naturally but is accelerated though the transport of infected soil and gravel by road-making machinery and other vehicles.

Renewable Energy Contradiction

Renewable Energy Contradiction

The community is concerned that there appears to be a ‘double standard’ developing regarding this project. On one hand, there is government rhetoric and the ‘push’ to utilise more green energy sources (e.g. development of the wind farms in the south west of Victoria) while on the other hand, persistence in utilising transmission infrastructures (e.g. overhead high voltage transmission lines and switching stations) that have huge impact on the surrounding environments and also waste at least 10% of the green energy generated compared to new efficient in-ground cabling.

The difficulty with Environmental Impacts is that they are difficult to quantify. Everyone would like to be living in a pristine natural environment, but at what cost? If we dedicate ourselves and government policies to preserving environmental conditions, we should recognise and accept that the benefits of these environments are only achieved at a cost, usually seen as monetary. So, we need to weigh up the pros and cons, but comparing the benefits of a preferred environment against economical costs of preserving that environment, is like comparing apples with oranges. My 30+ years of experience as an Environmental Management Systems Auditor, has clearly shown that if you are committed and open minded, you will find ways to quantify and make a relevant comparison. If you broaden the scope of your outlook, it is found that environmental improvements almost always result in improved efficiencies and hence fewer overall costs. For example, if you start by considering the entire energy transmission network for the State rather than individual transmission line projects, it becomes feasible to consider utilising more expensive (advanced) technologies (e.g. using in-ground efficient power transmission cables) and capitalising on the benefits and savings, they provide across the project and/or over the life of the infrastructure (e.g. reduced maintenance costs, reduced power outages and reduced energy transmission losses typical of overhead high voltage transmission networks).

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Stop AusNet’s Towers is demanding better consultation and a genuine process to consider alternatives.

The Moorabool Central Highlands Power Alliance comprises landowners, residents and community group concerned about the impacts of this project on our lives, land, environment, community and future generations

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