From 15 March 2019, power companies and authorities will need planning approval to build new power lines and electrical sub-stations connecting large-scale electricity generation facilities to the Victorian energy network.
The new requirement, created by Amendment VC157, amends the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) and affects all planning schemes. The key change is that the definition of ‘minor utility installation’ under Clause 73.03 of the VPP no longer includes power lines or sub-stations directly associated with an ‘energy generation facility’ or ‘geothermal energy extraction’. ‘Energy generation facility’ means ‘land used to generate energy for use off-site other than geothermal energy extraction’. This includes renewable and non-renewable energy generation facilities, buildings and other structures or things used in connection with the generation of energy.
This significant change means that from 15 March 2019, a proposal to use and develop land for power lines or sub-stations will trigger a planning permit requirement, as this will no longer be subject to the ‘minor utility facility’ exemption under Clauses 62.01 and 62.02. This brings Victoria in line with other States and Territories.
There are two important caveats to this amendment:
- If a permit for the use or development of power lines or sub-stations was obtained before 15 March 2019, Clause 62.02-1 of the VPP now provides that a permit will not be required for buildings and works in respect of those power lines or sub-stations; and
- This amendment does not affect a company’s or authority’s power to apply to compulsorily acquire easements to erect or maintain power lines, under section 86 of the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (Vic).
Companies and authorities seeking to build new power lines or sub-stations for large-scale electricity generation facilities should seek immediate advice on the cost and timing implications of complying with this new requirement.
This article was written with the assistance of Gemma Hallett, Law Graduate.