Victorian farmer Katherine Myers is calling on government to say no to overhead transmission lines to protect food production and safeguard rural communities.

At Tourello near Ballarat where Katherine farms with her husband Ben and his parents, overhead transmission lines are proposed across 1.5 kilometres of the property.

The high voltage transmission towers, which would be up to 85 metres high, are part of the proposed Western Renewables Link stretching 190kms from Victoria’s west to Melbourne’s north-west.

“The issue of transmission is huge. The Federal Government is planning 10,000 kms of new transmission lines in Australia over the next 10 to 20 years – our farm is just 1.5kms,” she said.

“That’s thousands of additional farmers or landholders out there who are going to be affected by this. It goes right from Northern Queensland to the southern tips of Tasmania.”

“There are really strict regulations on how we can farm around high voltage electricity because it’s a safety issue.”

Kathrine, who was a farm management economist, valuer and policy analyst by training before moving to the potato and sheep farm, says the overhead transmission lines will prevent her family from growing potatoes on that land.

“There are strict requirements around how we can use water, what machinery we can use, refuelling and repairing machinery, fencing and how we can use established technologies such as aerial spraying and spreading as well as innovative drone technology. So the construction of overhead transmission prevents us growing potatoes on that land.”

Katherine believes a safer, more efficient and sustainable solution to the proposed transmission lines is to install them underground.

“As farmers we support the generation of renewable energy. Our issue is around the use of high voltage alternating current overhead technology, which has huge implications for how we farm, for our environment and for our regional communities.”

“We want the government to look seriously at the use of high voltage direct current undergrounding technology for building an electricity grid for the next 100 years, not for the past century.”

“It’s marginally more expensive upfront, but it is enormously more efficient. The minute you put electricity into a high voltage above ground option, you lose approximately 30% of that generated power.”

“If we use high voltage direct current undergrounding, we can cut that down to losses of less than 10% more electricity in and more electricity back out the other end.”

“We are calling on government right now to underground all future transmission projects. It’s more efficient, it’s safer. It protects our food production and safeguards the future of our vibrant rural communities.”

“We want to be sustainable because we want future generations to keep farming here. My father-in-law has always said that as a farmer, he’s not an owner of this land. He’s the caretaker of this land. It’s his job to take on this farm from his parents and hand it on to his children and grandchildren in better condition. And having 85m high towers carrying high voltage electricity across this property is not leaving it in better condition than when he took it on.”

The Victorian Farmers Federation Horticulture Vice-President says overhead transmission lines have significant implications for rural communities.

“This issue is so much bigger than just farmers. Even just here in this district. We have tourism, businesses, wineries, wedding operators, we have a hot air balloon company, there are all kinds of people who are really concerned for their business’s future with this kind of technological development,” she said.

“You’re only eligible for compensation from this kind of infrastructure if you are directly hosting it on your land. So If your property is adjacent to that there is no capacity to compensate you under the current Land Acquisition and Compensation Act.”

“My message to Canberra is to think about what we’re doing and do it right, do it once and do it properly. If you love Aussie grown, help us protect Aussie farms and keep farmers farming.”

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