MID North Coast Greens still believe Essential Energy had no meaningful community discussion leading up to land clearing and work starting on the Hyland Park power line project between Valla Beach and Nambucca Heads.
Essential Energy released a statement to say the amount of land it has cleared for the installation of 23 power poles and 3.2km of powerlines along the road reserve beside Hyland Park Road has been minimal.
"Approximately 12 months ago, NSW State Forests undertook significant tree clearing within Nambucca State Forest and a subsequent fire burned much of the undergrowth," the statement said.
"As part of the project, Essential Energy needs to remove some remaining trees on the edge of the State Forest adjacent to the road reserve and some trees growing within the road reserve itself, to achieve the required clearance distances from the new power line to protect public and environmental safety.
The company said it commissioned an independent consultant to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project prior to work commencing but Greens MLC Dr John Kaye said they were missing the point.
"Essential Energy may have ticked all the bureaucratic boxes for its Hyland Park Project but it has acted with comprehensive disregard for local residents and their concerns," he said.
"The first time the public heard about the project was in a generic letter sent on November 8.
"Essential did not meaningfully respond to requests for more details.
"The distributor has repeatedly failed to release information on the need or environmental impacts of the project.
"There is no mention of the new line on Essential's website.
"There is no public information on why the line is needed, what the alternative routes are and why sections of the state forest had to be felled.
"The NSW Energy Minister should not let Essential Energy or any other power company treat residents with this level of contempt."
Greens spokesperson for Cowper, Carol Vernon, said community members looking for answers hit a brick wall.
"They were given Essential's supply interruption phone number to call which is deeply inappropriate.
"If Essential Energy is confident of the need for the project and the accuracy of their independent EIS, they should have shared this information with residents well before trees were felled.
"If that behaviour 'ticks all the boxes' then the system is badly broken.
"Overhead power lines have been shown to be a cause of wildfire and residents would have appreciated Essential Energy pursuing the possibility of placing the power line underground."
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