Private landowners in New South Wales (NSW) will be offered $200,000 (USD 127,000) per kilometre for hosting new transmission infrastructure on their land as the state government looks to beef up the grid for renewable energy uptake.
Under the Strategic Benefit Payments Scheme, announced by the NSW government on Oct. 25, the average payments for hosting high voltage lines received by landowners across the state will be nearly doubled to at least $10,000 for each kilometre of transmission wire. Payments will be given in instalments over 20 years, indexed to CPI.
Minister for Energy Matt Kean said maximising the economic benefits of this new infrastructure and supporting regional communities is central to the NSW energy transition plan, targeting 12 GW of renewable energy capacity and 2 GW of storage by 2030.
The scheme will apply for new major transmission projects, including the Central-West Orana Transmission Project, Project EnergyConnect, HumeLink, the New England Transmission Project and the Hunter Transmission Project. Most of this new infrastructure will be built in regional NSW.
“This is a huge win for landowners across NSW that will almost double the average payment they currently receive – and importantly – the rate of the payments will be calculated in the same way regardless of where you live to ensure all landowners are treated equitably under the scheme,” Kean said.
But while key for the energy transition, transmission projects have often been met with community backlash. Landowners have voiced concerns about fire risks, devaluation of property, visual impacts, and compensation.
Most recently, landowners in the path of a proposed 360-kilometre transmission line across NSW – the HumeLink – have expressed frustration it will not be going underground in the Snowy Mountains, as originally planned.
Now, the NSW government’s new compensation scheme has been met with mixed reactions. Farmers for Climate Action, an organisation representing more than 7,000 farmers nationally, welcomed the NSW government’s move, saying that it has “set the benchmark for power line payments in Australia.”
“Farmers for Climate Action applauds this policy, which has the potential to bring renewables online faster whilst giving farmers alternative sources of income,” Farmers for Climate Action CEO Fiona Davis said. “Alternative income is so important during times like droughts, or in recovering from floods, which climate change has already brought far too much of.”
However, community group Stop, Rethink HumeLink Towers criticised the scheme, saying transmission lines would blight the landscape and pose a major environmental risk.
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