Letter to politicians

Plantagenet Line Upgrade Group
310 Healy Road
Narrikup WA 6326

Dear Sir/Madam

Kojonup to Albany Power line Upgrade

Plantagenet Line Upgrade Group (PLUG) are concerned landowners affected by the proposed 220Kv Kojonup to Albany transmission line (2011 upgrade) combined with the Grange Resources Southdown requirements.

We realize Albany needs more power to progress and are not opposed to a power line or other options, but the process used to select corridors and the ridiculous high impact routes chosen by contractors GHD and Western Power are not logical.

After a couple of neighbours received notification from Western Power about the proposed line upgrade we held a small gathering, selected a core committee and arranged a public community meeting in Mt Barker (25th July 2007) for concerned landholders. Not surprisingly, there was a fantastic attendance of 140-150 people who are very angry and concerned with the State Government and Western Power.

Our main concerns are as follows:


    The consultation process is flawed, perhaps to the point of fraud, with a large percentage of landowners (perhaps 20%) not receiving notification of the proposal. There are many sources of information that people can access for postal addresses such as shire rates notices. However GHD referred to old inaccurate title documents. Western Power can send us a bill and newsletters easily but not notification of a major impact on our properties.

    At Western Power's initial landholders meetings volunteers were called for a consultative group. Two of this group, who are Shire of Plantagenet councilors stated the corridors are not as they were selected at the initial workshop and they were manipulated during this process.

    Western Power and GHD are now in the process of asking for criteria weightings on each corridor so they can twist the results and state that the landowners selected the corridors. This weighting process does not do justice to the differences in the proposed routes around the intensely populated areas in comparison to the broad acre farming areas. The criteria that we were asked to weight are generic, broad and ill-defined.

    We are saying to Western Power but are not being heard:
    "Select a route with less impact on the hundreds of landowners affected by these proposed corridors"


    Western Power has selected a route through the Shire of Plantagenet/West Albany, the most densely populated area of small intensive agriculture in prime agricultural land.

    The Denbarker, West Narrikup, Redmond areas are home to many of the vineyards, olive groves and smaller farms in the Shires. The corridors cover at least 7 to 10 of our main vineyards, the emergency airport and numerous environmentally sensitive areas.

    This area encompasses the focus Wilson Inlet Catchment one of the most progressive catchments in the State. Over $3 million of State and Federal funds - matched by farmer's funds and labour has been spent in the area in recent years. There are numerous Conservation Covenants, wildlife corridors, bush protection, revegetation projects and sustainable agricultural activities completed in this catchment. There are also many ongoing environmental projects being undertaken. Such as the implementation of the Wilson Inlet Nutrient Reduction Action Plan, the Upper Hay Strategic catchment plan, the Gondwana link West project and the nomination proposal for the Wilson Inlet Catchment to become a UNESCO Biosphere.

    Land devaluation is a major consideration as most farmers' superannuation is based on the sale of a section of the property to finance their retirement. The farming population of Narrikup and Redmond has an average age of 55 years plus hence the devaluation of their properties by a process beyond their control will be a crippling blow to most. The proposed compensation for the foot print of the `trifid- like' towers would be negligible.


    Since the split of SEC into Alinta, Synergy and Western Power each only looks after their own business. Western Power are in the transmission game and are not interested in looking outside the square at other options of power supply. Are they only looking at increasing assets and turnover before a possible sale?


    Surely, other options to be looked at are:-

    1. A peak power gas-fired generator plant
      • supplied by the promised Bunbury-Albany pipeline
      • or supplying gas by ship
      • or diesel fueled initially with the option of using possible gas from the Bremer Basin.
      Combined with:
      • wind turbines as mooted in the Wellstead area
      • and the proposed Biomass power plant would allow a 132 Kv power line (on poles) instead of a 220 Kv line (50-60 metre towers) to service Albany's and Grange Resources needs.
    2. Underground Transmission lines as used in progressive thinking countries could be installed through high impact areas. There is a lot of different impacts when taking these Tower Transmission lines through the 50-500 acre farms in this area and the unique remnant and riparian vegetation with many Indigenous and European cultural heritage values in comparison to taking them over 5000 acres properties.
    3. A 220 Kv Power line direct to Grange Resources north of the Stirling Ranges transversing very large broad acre properties.
      • This is the shortest route from Kojonup to Grange with fewer impacts on the farming community and the environment.
      • The power could then be connected to Albany via a line along the already covenanted pipeline route with a substation east of Albany. Western Power state it is too dangerous to follow a pipe, however we are told by a Western Power employee that it is possible with proper earthing to the pipe.


    If an approximately $400 million line from the polluting non-renewable coal fire power stations at Collie, 350 km to Albany is the only option we need to look at creating a minimal scar on the landscape.

    Utilize existing corridors
    One of the two lines supplying Albany from Kojonup is a 132Kv line on wooden posts approximately 45 years old, with all easements in place, and will need upgrading in the not too distant future. Surely this can be upgraded to accommodate the new line at the same time, on the same support structures. We are loath to say "put it in someone else's backyard" but most of these properties have been purchased since the old line was constructed so landowners purchased with their eyes open, caveats have been registered by Western Power and it crosses the larger less intensive farmland with lower agricultural and environmental values.

    Reduce impact on high density rural areas
    Another alternative is through the Hay Sheepwash State Forest which would be a shorter route alleviating the impact on a possible 100 properties while creating a badly needed significant fire break (50 metres easement under Transmission Lines) as fire jumps the Hay River regularly into our farmland.

We trust you will look at our concerns seriously. Please look outside the square by considering all options and avoid a scar on the highly valued landscape which would affect the growth of our Shires and tourism in this region.

We request that you assist us by delaying the selection process; to revisit the effectiveness of the selection process; to consider alternate options of power for the Great Southern; and failing a better route being determined, to downgrade the power line from a 220Kv line to a 132Kv line.

Thank you in anticipation of your support.

Yours sincerely

Michelle Doherty
Keith Townsend
Bill Hollingworth