O’Brien aware of South Gippsland Marinus Link alarm

GIPPSLAND South MLA Danny O’Brien says he understands residents along a possible route through South Gippsland for the proposed Marinus Link project will be alarmed at news the cables may cross their land.

Mr O’Brien said he was aware that in recent weeks Marinus Link has been contacting landholders throughout an area extending northwards from Waratah Bay to Hazelwood with a view to starting discussions on landholder access agreements.

“Marinus Link is a proposed new electricity interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria which would connect to the national grid at Hazelwood,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I’ve been following the development of the Marinus Link project for 18 months or more now given it was always likely to travel through the electorate of Gippsland South to connect to the grid.

“After the rancour that was experienced with the Bass Link project nearly 20 years ago, I’m pleased that Marinus Link has committed to underground the cable for its entire length on the Victorian side,” he said.

“However, I understand that many landholders are now hearing about this project for the first time and are concerned at what it will mean for their property, businesses and farming operations.

“It’s important though for everyone to understand Marinus Link is still in the early stages of development and a final decision on whether it even proceeds, let alone the exact route, is still a number of years away.

“I encourage people to engage directly with Marinus Link and take up the offer of assistance with legal fees if they are unsure about their legal position.”

Mr O’Brien said landholders have rights and they should be aware of them.

“I spoke recently with the [State] Minister for Energy [Lily D’Ambrosio] about the legal implications on the Victorian side, but I understand that at this stage Marinus Link has no compulsory acquisition rights with respect to an easement.

“However, I have asked the Minister for some further information on how this project might proceed,” Mr O’Brien said.

“As always I’m happy to speak to any landholders who have concerns that can be addressed through the Victorian government.”

The Tasmanian Government-owned TasNetworks and its subsidiary Marinus Link Pty Ltd wants to build the dual 1500-megawatt capacity power exchange and telecommunications connection in two 750-megawatt stages.

Should the project go ahead as planned, new subsea and underground electricity and optical fibre cabling laid between Tasmania and Victoria would land at Waratah Bay and travel 90 kilometres via South and Central Gippsland to the Latrobe Valley.

The Marinus Link project involves high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables running from a new converter station at Heybridge near Burnie on the northern Tasmanian coast, under Bass Strait to Waratah Bay and through Gippsland to join the National Energy Market at the Hazelwood Terminal substation.

Waratah Bay to Hazelwood has emerged as Marinus Link’s “proposed” route after earlier studies identified and rejected a number of other route options between various locations on both the Victorian and Tasmanian sides of Bass Strait, though all were described by the proponents as “prudent and feasible”.

These alternative routes included connecting Port Latta near Stanley on the north-western Tasmania coast to Portland in south-western Victoria or to East Geelong; and joining Heybridge near Burnie to either East Geelong or Moorabool to the north-west of Geelong.

Other routes looked at by Marinus Link were Burnie or Sheffield in Tasmania to Cranbourne or Tyabb.

The path of the Bass Link interconnector between the Tasmanian George Town substation and the Latrobe Valley’s Loy Yang power station, which makes landfall in Victoria at McGaurans Beach near Giffard, was also examined but dismissed.

Marinus Link’s Proposed Route Overview to Support Community Input document dated December 2020 states that “locating Marinus Link alongside the existing Bass Link cable was considered and evaluated, however it was not pursued [for several reasons].”

These reasons included not exposing the energy supply between the two states to potential risk from a single event such as fire or a ship’s anchor strike by geographically separating the two interconnectors.

Potential constraints to the existing grid capacity between Loy Yang, where Bass Link comes in, and Hazelwood, where Marinus Link would connect, and a similar issue at the George Town end of Bass Link were also cited, as was the need for Marinus Link to be close to Tasmania’s north-western renewable energy zone.

When commissioned the Marinus Link’s capacity is expected to be triple that of Bass Link.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien’s electorate office is located at 54B Cunninghame Street, Sale, Victoria 3850, telephone 5144 1987, email danny.obrien@parliament. vic.gov.auFor more details about the Marinus Link project’s current status see the 30-page document Proposed Route Overview to Support Community Input on the Marinus Link website at www. marinuslink.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Proposed-route-overview-to-support-community-input-Marinus-Link.pdf