The company building a 190-kilometre renewable electricity transmission project in Victoria's west has flagged a significant delay to the project, having revised the submission date for the Environmental Effects Statement to late 2022. Power distribution company AusNet Services said the decision to delay the submission of the EES by six months, though influenced in part by COVID-19 restrictions and recent regional flooding, primarily turned on its desire to consult more closely with landholders and the community on the proposed route of the project. The project - which will connect new renewable energy generators at Bulgana to the grid by building high-voltage transmission lines to Sydenham, in Melbourne's northwest - has long met with fierce resistance from councils and residents opposed to the project's planned route, as well as the prospect of long stretches of above-ground cables across valuable farmland. See the proposed route map below. Hepburn Shire Council mayor Tim Drylie welcomed the decision to delay the EES, reiterating the council's steadfast opposition to both the planned route and 24ha terminal station in the Shire. "[This] gives people more time to work out how they will respond to the EES once it is released for community feedback," he said. "We are extremely disappointed at the historical lack of transparency and poor community consultation with this project." "We hope [it] means AusNet will use this time to listen to the community [and] consult properly with affected landholders and make significant changes to this project, including changing the route or placing the transmission lines underground." RELATED: Final route proposed for powerline project An EES acts as a precondition to the commencement of works, with the state government required to review it and any public comment submitted in response before construction can begin. For several months, both the Moorabool and Hepburn Shire councils have called for the transmission wires to go underground, notwithstanding the added expense, which could run into the billions. If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.