Marinus Link and North West Transmission Developments
Responding to COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, TasNetworks is reviewing all work priorities, including those relevant to Marinus Link and the supporting North West Tasmania transmission developments. TasNetworks provides an essential service: delivering Tasmania’s energy supply. We are taking calm but decisive action to limit the risks posed by COVID-19 and prepare for all scenarios. We are focussed on supporting the continuing good health and safety of our team members and community, and on protecting our key operations. While we do this, we expect that some project timelines will be impacted by delays. TasNetworks is working through forward plans for Marinus Link and the supporting North West Tasmania transmission developments with our Shareholding Ministers, including COVID-19 considerations. We continue to prepare for future engagement activities, to be ready to activate once the pathway through COVID-19 is clearer.
Your feedback on the proposed route
Thank you to those who provided feedback on the proposed route at the community workshops and through our online engagement platform in late 2019 and early 2020. A summary of feedback we have received is available here. Your comments highlight concerns about how the proposed route could impact on the local community in terms of visual amenity, security and environmental impacts, and how it could impact the local economy and tourism industry. Your feedback also highlights an interest in and support for renewable energy developments facilitated by the proposed transmission line. Now that we have this information, we are progressing our assessment of the proposed Staverton to Hampshire Hills transmission route.
Assessing variations to the proposed route
The proposed route that we consulted on in late 2019 and early 2020 was identified using desktop studies undertaken by a team of experts in the fields of land use planning, power system engineering, economics, environment and cultural heritage.
TasNetworks has received requests for changes to the proposed route from landowners, neighbours and community groups. We have now met with these interested parties to better understand their concerns and suggestions for realignment. TasNetworks is currently considering these concerns and suggestions as part of a review of the proposed Staverton to Hampshire Hills transmission route. Potential variations to the proposed route that aim to address these concerns and suggestions may directly affect new landowners: these landowners will be contacted before TasNetworks discloses variations to the proposed route, should we proceed with this.
Further detailed investigations of the proposed route
Further detailed technical investigations and detailed visual impact assessments will identify any other refinements to the proposed route that may be required and confirm its feasibility.
Once the final route is determined, TasNetworks will undertake a detailed technical assessment of the proposed route. This will include ecological and cultural heritage surveys and geotechnical investigations. These investigations will be undertaken once TasNetworks has gained land access from affected landowners and land managers.
Visual impact assessment
We are working through the visual landscape impact assessment process, commencing with desktop studies and analysis to assist us with ‘view sheds’ for the currently proposed favourable route. We then plan to progress to more detailed impact assessment and analysis, with visual illustrations and representations to be developed from the perspective of key sites. These will be informed by access to properties to enable greater accuracy. Our analysis will also be informed by further discussions with landowners and the community.
Upcoming consultation - we are flexible
Due to these circumstances, planning for engagements needs careful review. We appreciate that the current uncertainty presents challenges for people to engage in these processes. We are committed to maximising engagement opportunities, recognising that individual circumstance may vary. To that end, we will work with landowners and other interested parties in a tailored and respectful manner.
When the time is right and with respect to communities, we plan to have:
- Ongoing discussions with landowners as part of the route selection process and establishing access agreements to conduct surveys.
- Discussions with Staverton to Hampshire Hills communities regarding any route alternatives, other network assets and infrastructure including proposed switching stations and associated visual impact assessment.
- An updated schedule of engagement on the remaining North West Tasmania transmission developments.
We’d like to hear from you about how we can engage with you and your community during this time so please get in touch via the contact details below.
We are here
Please get in touch via our project email and phone line with any questions about the project.
Phone: 1300 127 777
Planned aerial inspections to conduct eagle nest surveys - 25 - 29 May 2020
In June 2019 TasNetworks undertook eagle nest surveys of the areas potentially impacted by the proposed North West Tasmania transmission developments. We are undertaking additional eagle nest surveys that build on the findings from 2019.
In the week commencing 11 May 2020, TasNetworks undertook eagle nest surveys in the vicinity of the potential Staverton to Hampshire Hills route, involving an aerial inspection covering an expanded area. This was to ensure possible variations to the Staverton to Hampshire Hills section are properly investigated.
In the week commencing 25 May 2020, TasNetworks will undertake additional eagle nest surveys involving an aerial inspection in the vicinity of: Heybridge, Chasm Creek, Stowport, East Cam, West Mooreville, West Ridgley, Ridgley, Highclere and Hampshire. These surveys are in addition to surveys carried out between 11 – 15 May 2020.
The locations targeted in the surveys commencing 25 May are informed by information gathered through desktop investigations and learnings from landowner and community engagements TasNetworks previously conducted.
Findings from the surveyed area will be used in route selection and design, in addition to planning for construction activities to help mitigate impacts on eagles should the proposed North West Tasmania Transmission development proceed.
A vital part of the environmental impact assessment
Eagle nest surveys form a vital part of the environmental impact assessment for the North West Tasmania transmission developments. They involve undertaking helicopter-based surveys to identify Wedge Tailed Eagle and White Bellied Sea Eagle nests. Helicopters are preferred for eagle nest searches as they can fly low and slowly enough for trained observers to find nests.
Wedge Tailed Eagles and White Bellied Sea Eagles are listed on State and Federal threatened species lists, and these species (including habitat) require protection. Eagle nest surveys help to confirm existing Natural Values Atlas (NVA) nest location records and to identify any new nests within proximity of the easement.
When these surveys will take place
The planned surveys will occur between Monday, 25 May 2020 and Friday, 29 May 2020. It is anticipated that the survey will take 20 hours within this one week window. The one week window allows for poor weather conditions and maximum daily flying time allowances.
TasNetworks takes any potential impacts to our endangered Tasmanian Eagles very seriously. There is only a small window outside of the eagle breeding season – around three months – in which Eagle nest surveys can be undertaken.These surveys will build on the 2019 survey, and will contribute to a robust and thorough environmental and social impact assessment of the proposed North West Tasmania transmission developments.
The surveys are part of the critical early works needed to progress the proposed North West Tasmania transmission developments, which are required to support Marinus Link and the implementation of TasNetworks’ North West Tasmania Strategic Transmission Plan. TasNetworks has received $56 million in federal funding to progress with this work.
These developments are part of supporting the significant jobs and investment opportunity in Tasmania from Marinus Link, the Battery of the Nation and the state’s world class wind resources.
The proposed connection will run under the sea from Burnie in Tasmania to Latrobe Valley in Victoria.
Frequently asked questions
Why North West Tasmania?
North West Tasmania and the State as a whole is likely to see significant activity as a result of Marinus Link. This is because Tasmania has:
- high priority renewable energy zones, as identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator in its Integrated System Plan. These zones are areas that have excellent potential for developing renewable energy generation projects, such as solar and wind farms:
- a high potential to host pumped hydro energy storage; and
- the favourable connection point for Marinus Link in North West Tasmania.
Upgrades to TasNetworks’ electricity network will be required to grow the capacity of the network to support new renewable energy projects. This will support low cost, reliable and secure energy supply.
Once renewable energy projects are developed, they will provide broader benefits to North West Tasmania in terms of construction, on-going jobs and economic growth.
Transmission upgrades will only progress to construction once necessary approvals and funding arrangements are in place. Each project will need to pass a rigorous planning and environment approvals process.New renewable energy projects and transmission upgrades will enable a change to the way Tasmania generates its power. Wind and solar resources will generate more energy, allowing water to be held in hydro storages. This stored water can provide ‘ready on demand’ energy when needed, used to meet customer demands when wind and solar generation isn’t available. In combination, this will support a low cost, reliable and clean energy mix for customers in the national electricity market.
Have investigations begun for the Staverton to Hampshire Hills route?
TasNetworks is currently investigating a new transmission connection between Straverton to Hampshire Hills.
This new corridor is proposed to connect the Robbins Island and Jims Plain wind farms, currently being planned by a private energy developer called UPC Renewables. Read more information about the proposed Robbins Island Wind farm.
The UPC Renewables connection has prompted TasNetworks to bring forward part of the proposed network upgrades planned for this region, with acceleration at the developer’s cost. Our goal is to work with UPC Renewables and other generation developers to achieve a coordinated and optimised transmission network that efficiently unlocks the renewable energy zone.
The proposed transmission line between Hampshire and Staverton is to be built, owned and operated by TasNetworks. Under this arrangement, UPC Renewables will pay for the right to use the line.
The preferred route between Hampshire to Staverton must consider a range of factors and constraints. TasNetworks must consider environmental impacts, energy system requirements, cultural heritage sites, constructability, construction and maintenance costs, planning and land-use policy and many other key factors.
Our design will seek use existing easements where viable, and minimise any adverse impacts on landowners and to conservation areas.
Landowners will be contacted in November 2019 to support these investigations, and feedback will then be sought from the wider community in late 2019.
Community feedback will help to test the information used to identify a preferred route. Community input will be taken on board where possible, and will also help to inform design and construction considerations, to reduce impacts.
Please note: Naming for the ‘Staverton to Hampshire Hills’ Southern section has been updated as of June 2020.