Australia: McCain Warns Powerline Project Might Jeopardize Potato Production
A high capacity powerline proposed through one of Victoria’s main agricultural areas has raised concerns from McCain managers: the food giant warns that more than 60,000 tons of annual potato crop is in jeopardy. Farmers and local communities between Melbourne and Stawell are also against the USD550m proposal for the Western Victoria Transmission Network to be built by AusNet Services. The Australian Energy Market Operator has contracted the company to supply the new transmission line to connect renewable energy suppliers more easily to the city and drive down energy prices.
However, the 190-km long line will run through dozens of farms in the state’s west, requiring about 380 towers to support it. The overhead lines also require large lots and exclusion zones that have ignited the fury of farmers around Ballarat who believe they will no longer be able to access their potato crops with machinery needed for watering and harvest.
McCain argues AusNet’s own rules would forever stop potato farming on 1000ha of land, equivalent to 60% of the company’s production area in Ballarat.
“AusNet’s proposed overhead transmission line directly threatens the loss of the McCain’s potato production facility in Ballarat, over USD250m in economic impact and more than 1100 jobs,” the company said. “McCain is aligned with our growers that these constraints directly prohibit and/or significantly burden Ballarat potato production, directly threatening the potato industry.”