Riverina landowners are continuing to push back against a major powerline project which they believe will increase fire risk, plummet the value of their properties and destroy an otherwise "beautiful landscape".
The $3.3 billion HumeLink project involves building a 500kv transmission line, including towers up to 80-metres high, along a 360 kilometre stretch between Wagga Wagga, Maragle and Bannaby.
On September 21, the proposed corridor for the line was narrowed, sparking renewed concerns from residents whose properties look set to contain the line.
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Rebecca Tobin's family has owned a cattle grazing property in Darlow for over seven decades but she says the concerns they have expressed with Transgrid over the past 11 months have fallen on deaf ears.
"My first reaction when I got the call about the new corridor was 'oh so you haven't listened'," Mrs Tobin said.
"We are so close to where the Dunns Road fire began and we just don't understand why they are going through a fire prone community and putting vulnerable people at greater risk."
When Mrs Tobin's father Ross Smith helped fight the devastating bushfire at the start of 2020, he witnessed sparks flying from the existing 330kv powerline as transmission lines arced.
The experience made the family wary of the fire risk the line poses and they are firmly opposed to the possibility of a second line nearly twice the size being built alongside it.
"We were threatened the entire three weeks and it was quite a traumatic experience. If we have these extra transmission lines in close proximity to us that is quite frightening to think what summers will be like," Mrs Tobin said.
"In California they are putting 10,000 miles of powerlines underground for the sole purpose of reducing fire risk - so why are we being thrown into the fire?"
Transgrid has assessed the risk posed by extreme weather events and has shifted the design of the transmission lines to a double-circuit configuration which they say will reduce the risk of outages.
The company also said it looked into the possibility of building the lines underground but found the cost would be ten times higher, which would result in significantly higher electricity costs for NSW residents.
Mrs Tobin said she has requested to be shown these studies but they have not been provided to her and she is demanding Transgrid conduct more effective community consultation before going ahead with the project.
"It feels as though there is more consideration of what the cheapest route is, over and above the consideration for those people impacted by Humelink," she said.
As well as the fire risk, residents are also concerned by how the line will impact farming practices, land values, the safety of aerial personnel and the overall scenery of the area.
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Up to seven hectares of Ian Robson's property in Westwood is set to contain the transmission lines, areas which he says are full of bushland and picturesque scenery.
"To build there they will have to clear 100 per cent of the timber under the powerlines and that is going to be one of the most visually polluting environmental scars in the area," Mr Robson said.
"There has been basically no public consultation whatsoever and it's just a big business bullying small local landholders.
"Their form of consultation is to ring us up and tell us what they're doing and we're just expected to accept it."
Transgrid has said it will prioritise land acquisition by agreement and that this will be the outcome in "most cases".
The corridor will be narrowed to 200 metres and opening discussions with landowners will begin later this year.
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