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Fresh probe to reassess underground power lines

A NSW parliamentary committee will reassess whether installing power lines underground is preferable to the government's method of building overhead wires.


A transmission tower is seen on a foggy morning in Canberra. Image AAP

A NSW parliamentary committee will probe the government's decision to use overhead powerlines rather than underground cables to connect renewable energy zones.


The NSW Upper House voted in support of establishing the committee on Wednesday night, appointing Greens MP Cate Faehrmann as its chair.


Ms Faehrmann said expert evidence overwhelmingly supported using underground cables and expressed concerns regarding the risk surrounding overhead wires during fires and floods.


"Multiple witnesses gave evidence to the committee regarding the increased risk that overhead transmission lines pose during bushfires," Ms Faehrmann said.


"This increased risk, in the face of climate change, should be reason enough for the Government to be prioritising underground transmission lines where they can."


She called an earlier inquiry which resulted in the government committing to use overhead lines a "sham".


That inquiry was told running cables underground would lead to substantial additional cost, long delays and regulatory approval hurdles.


"During the previous Inquiry, every witness we heard from, bar Transgrid, opposed overhead transmission lines," Ms Faehrmann said.


"This new inquiry, which is not controlled by government, will ensure the community's concerns are genuinely heard and acted upon."


The $4.9 billion HumeLink project will connect Snowy Hydro 2.0 to Sydney and the wider NSW grid, but will also cut through prime farmland and national parks.


The existing HumeLink plan is expected to be finished by 2026, but underground cables could delay the project up to five years, the earlier inquiry was told. 


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