Letter from Gary Snook

10 September 2007

Messrs Keith Townsend, Bill Hollingworth and Ms Michelle Doherty
Plantagenet Line Upgrade Group
310 Healy Road NARRIKUP WA 6326

Dear Messrs Townsend and Hollingworth and Ms Doherty

Thank you for your letter regarding the Kojonup to Albany Power Line upgrade, and advising of your concerns with regard to the proposed alignment.

I am currently facing a similar situation in my electorate with the Eneabba to Moonyoonooka Power Line, and have had many meetings with Western Power in regard to the alignment and its effect on landowners in the area.

There are concerns as you point out in your correspondence with regard to Western Power Corporation's proposals to construct these high-tension transmission lines through rural areas.

The two major matters with which I am currently challenging W.P.C. and this State Government over are the following:

  1. The Labor Government has a policy of pre-disposition that "where there is opportunity for alternative route corridors through private land (eg farmland) then that is to be used before the use of Crown land for transmission lines". This policy is nonsensical, as by example of the Eneabba to Moonyoonooka line proposal the additional cost of utilising farmland is approximately $15 Million to $20 Million extra, as against a more direct route through reserve bushland.

    I am pressuring the Government to change this stupid policy. I believe W.P.C. would prefer to use Crown land where possible especially if it is a cost saving.

  2. The lack of "fair and just" compensation where private land is used for tower construction. Currently there is no provision by law for W.P.C. to pay ongoing "lease" or "rental" payment to landowners. There are precedents already set in this area and I highlight two examples.

    Moore Electorate includes the Shires of- Carnamah - Chittering - Coorow - Dandaragan - Gingin - Moora - Toodyay - Victoria Plains. Telstra pay landowners for the land value of the small parcel they utilise for country exchanges on farmland. Additionally they pay the farmer an annual rental payment for the ongoing loss of "production" and "amenity".

    Owners of wind farms pay farmers annual lease payments for each turbine on the farm property.

Clearly W.P.C. should pay farmers annual "rental" or "lease" payments to farmers/landowners for each tower that sits on their property.

This is justified by the fact that:

  1. Private power producers put their ("power") electricity through the lines and make a profit.
  2. W.P.C. charge private power stations a fee for using its powerline and W.P.C. makes a profit
  3. The taxpayer who funds the transmission line and owns it gets a dividend, (paid to the Government by W.P.C.).
  4. But guess who doesn't share in the revenue stream (profits) - the landowner whose property the towers stand on.

This is a loss of property right and a downright injustice. I am currently urging the Minister to rectify this injustice.

I am also currently endeavouring to persuade the Minister and Western Power that there are alternatives routes, through Crown land, which would minimise the impact on farmers and would create a much cheaper alternative for the WA community to fund. I trust my response will encourage you to continue your efforts.

I fully support you in your endeavours, will endeavour to assist if I can, and wish you every success.

With kind regards.

Yours sincerely,