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Overview

Powerlink owns and operates 2.7km of 275kV underground high voltage transmission cables that run between the Bayview Heights and White Rock transition stations in Cairns.  

Installed in 1997, the 2.7km of underground cables are critical to maintaining a reliable, secure and safe power supply for residents and businesses in Cairns and the Far North Queensland region.  

Powerlink maintains an easement along the length of the underground cables so we can safely operate and maintain the transmission cables. 

Since the underground cables were installed, there has been significant development in the Mount Sheridan area, including the residential Forest Gardens Estate. Over time, vegetation has grown around the underground cables and easement.  

Essential works to ensure the continued secure supply of power to the Cairns region are required along sections of the underground cable and easement located in Mount Sheridan’s Forest Gardens and include:  

  • vegetation management along the easement, including selected tree removal of approximately 385 trees identified as being a high or future risk to the underground cables   
  • easement restoration, including replanting with compatible vegetation  
  • refurbishment works at two cable joint bay sites located near Alpinia Terrace and Amazon Close.   

Vegetation management and selected tree removal along the easement is starting from Monday 29 July 2024.  

We will minimise impacts wherever possible and are committed to keeping residents and the community updated on start and finish dates for all planned works.  

Status

Powerlink sought community feedback on two proposed options for the vegetation removal and easement restoration works.  

Further information on the two options is available in our Project Newsletter – June 2024

The feedback received confirmed a preference for option one which involves removing most of the vegetation in 2024 and undertaking progressive restoration works. 

Staging of works  

The vegetation removal and easement restoration works will occur over a three-year period between 2024 and 2026. Vegetation removal will start at the Alpinia Terrace end of the easement with works continuing down the easement towards Amazon Close.   

Year  Required works  Approximate number of trees to be removed  
2024 
  • Remove trees posing a high risk to the underground cable  
  • Remove all trees within four key clusters  
  • Some vegetation in a 20m x 20m area around the joint bay locations will remain until the refurbishment works in 2025  
  • Mulch will be used, where possible, to cover areas where trees have been removed 
  • Restoration works will start at the cleared cluster area  
285  
2025 
  • Remove remaining vegetation around joint bay locations  
  • Remove remaining trees posing a future risk to the underground cables  
  • Complete restoration works along the easement  
100  
2026 
  • Maintenance of plantings  
Nil  

Maps showing the staging of these works is available under the Resources section on this page.  

Essential cable joint refurbishment works are needed at two joint bay sites located within Powerlink’s easement, adjacent to Alpinia Terrace and Amazon Close in the Forest Gardens Estate.   

The refurbishment works on the joint bays will be undertaken during planned network outages in 2025 and will not result in any impacts to electricity supply.  

As the joint bays are located underground, the area above (approximately 20m x 12m), will be established as a construction site. This will involve installing fencing, vegetation clearing, excavation of the joint bays and setting up equipment in preparation for the refurbishment works.  

Some vegetation around the joint bay sites will remain until the refurbishment works start in the 2025 dry season.  

Powerlink is committed to restoring the easement while maintaining required safety clearances for the underground cables and easement.  

We are working with Cairns Regional Council to appropriately plan for easement restoration works, including identifying new amenity opportunities for the area such as shade structures and seating.  

Restoration works will involve replanting along the easement with compatible species that will not impact on the underground cables or the easement in their mature state. Approximately 24,000 grasses and plants will be locally propagated from local provenance seeds and cuttings.  

We recognise removing trees will have visual and amenity impacts for residents of the Forest Gardens Estate, and the wider community.   

Landscaping drawings and visual materials have been prepared for different viewpoints along the easement to show how the area looks with existing vegetation and what it will look like after the vegetation management and restoration works are completed.  

Graphics have also been prepared to show the restoration zones, compatible species types and potential new amenities, which can be found in the Visuals section of this page. 

Alternatively, please call our project team on 07 4034 7600 or email [email protected] and request copies be provided to you.   

Existing
vegetation

Completed
restoration

Alpinia Terrace - Existing
Alpinia Terrace - Post Clearing and Vegetation Restoration
Alpinia Terrace - Existing 2
Alpinia Terrace - Post Clearing and Vegetation Restoration 2
Amazon Terrace - Existing
Amazon Terrace - Post Clearing and Vegetation Restoration
Blueberry Close - Existing
Blueberry Close - Post Clearing and Vegetation Restoration
Matissia Close - Existing
Matissia Close - Post Clearing and Vegetation Restoration

Community feedback and how to be involved

We have received feedback from residents and the local community on the vegetation removal and easement restoration works via:  

  • easement vegetation management surveys  
  • door-knocking residents  
  • community information drop-in sessions at Mt Sheridan Plaza  
  • enquiries to the project email and phone line  

Residents and the local community have shared the importance of trees and shade for the Forest Gardens Estate and confirmed the walking path along Crowleys Creek is a valued and well-used community asset. The key feedback areas included:  

  • loss of shade  
  • impacts to the walking path along Crowleys Creek 
  • disappointment about trees being removed  
  • importance of a reliable and secure electricity supply in the Cairns region  
  • concerns with some of the compatible species types proposed for the easement  
  • preference for option one vegetation management approach  
  • mixed support for new amenities (e.g. shade structures and seating) due to concerns with undesirable behaviours  
  • support for water bubblers, with dog bowls  

Thank you to all residents and community members who provided their insights, valued feedback and time.  

We are continuing to work with Cairns Regional Council to plan for the easement restoration works and identify opportunities to address community feedback.  

Over the coming months, there will be further opportunities for residents and the community to review and provide feedback on the restoration plans. The restoration planting works at the cleared cluster areas will commence at the start of the 2024 wet season. 

We will be hosting another community information drop-in sessions to provide residents and the community with an opportunity to meet with our project team, ask questions and provide feedback.  

Session details 

The community information drop-in session is being held at the Mount Sheridan Plaza (near Coles), 106 Barnard Drive, Mount Sheridan.  

  • Thursday 25 July: 5pm – 8pm   

Local residents, the wider community and other stakeholders will be kept updated about this project through:  

  • letterbox drops to properties in the project area    
  • door-knocking residents directly neighbouring the easement  
  • project newsletters    
  • webpage updates    
  • social media posts    
  • signage along the easement     
  • community information drop-in sessions.  

For more information on the Bayview Heights to White Rock Underground Cable project, please contact our project team on 07 4034 7600 or [email protected].   

Project background

Powerlink undertakes regular inspections of our transmission network to monitor its condition and identify issues such as vegetation that can impact the reliability of power supply.  

If not managed appropriately, some vegetation can be a hazard to our network and damage critical infrastructure, affect power supply and impact easement clearance zones.  

Inspections of the underground cables, easement and neighbouring Bayview Heights Transition Station have identified significant issues with the surrounding vegetation. This includes species with intrusive root systems encroaching on the underground cables.  

It has been determined that selected tree removal and vegetation management is required along the easement to manage existing and future risks to the underground cables and ensure the continued secure supply of power to the Cairns region.  

Due to the extent of vegetation along the easement and its social and environmental value, a site-specific clearing approach has been developed for the project. The approach involves keeping as much existing vegetation as possible while managing risks to the underground cables.