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    Member for Lowan Emma Kealy.

Northern Grampians power push

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the State Government to include Northern Grampians Shire Council as an eligible municipality in a Private Overhead Electric Line scheme.

Ms Kealy said popular tourist village Halls Gap, surrounded on all sides by Grampians National Park, alone would qualify for reasons the scheme was developed.

She said the POEL scheme, previously known as the Powerline Replacement Fund, provided money to help put private overhead powerlines underground in high fire-risk areas of Victoria.

“However, Northern Grampians Shire Council is not eligible to apply for funding,” she said.

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“The Grampians is a known high bushfire-risk area and has experienced significant bushfires in recent years. Halls Gap itself is full of overhead power lines.

“The Halls Gap community has identified putting all power lines underground as a high priority project since 2007, but is unable to apply for funding under the scheme – because Northern Grampians Shire is not deemed a high fire-risk region, even though it encompasses many communities within Grampians parkland.

“To ensure the safety of local people and to help us protect our vital tourism industry, it is essential that properties in Halls Gap are able to apply for funding to put power lines underground.”

Ms Kealy said she had previously written to Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio requesting the ‘immediate’ inclusion of Northern Grampians Shire Council in the funding scheme, but the request continued to be denied.

“This is despite a further 13 local government areas in Victoria being added to the eligibility list for the latest round of funding in October this year,” Ms Kealy said. “It defies logic that the government does not consider Grampians National Park a high bushfire-risk area.

“The minister needs to intervene immediately to ensure land owners in Halls Gap and the broader Northern Grampians Shire are eligible to apply for funding to put dangerous overhead power lines underground.”

Ms D’Ambrosio visited the Grampians bushland a fortnight ago to open the Grampians Peaks Trail.

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!