A local MP has broken ranks with the Victorian Labor party over a controversial energy project affecting agricultural land north of Ballarat. Member for Ripon Martha Haylett spoke up at Victorian Labor's annual State Conference over the weekend, urging her party to "change strategy" on the Western Renewables Link (WRL) - a 190 kilometre overhead high-voltage electricity transmission line proposed to carry renewable energy from Bulgana in western Victoria to Sydenham in Melbourne's north-west. Ms Haylett, who lives in Creswick, said the process to date led by the energy company AusNet Services and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) had failed to "bring communities along for the journey" and did not represent "what the Labor movement is all about". Backing a motion calling on the state government to intervene and move planning, development, and engagement control to Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action body VicGrid, to "correct the fundamentally flawed project," Ms Haylett told the conference she could not visit her local supermarket or nearby towns without "locals raising their concerns with [her]". "Transmission line projects need a social licence to be delivered," Ms Haylett said. "I am here to tell you that it simply does not have one in my community. "I have sat in the homes of so many people who have cried as they've told me about how they fear losing their family homes and livelihoods because of the [WRL]." Federal Member for Hawke Sam Rae supported the resolution - which highlighted "critical failures of [AEMO] and AusNet to properly consult with the community" - but it was lost after a speech by Victoria's Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio. Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King has consistently voiced concerns with the consultation process and reiterated those this week, telling The Courier: "We need projects like this to deliver clean and affordable power to communities across the country, but regional Australians cannot be cut out of the process." "Through my submission to the most recent AEMO consultation process, I continued to encourage AEMO and the project's proponents to properly consult with impacted communities all along the route," Ms King said. AEMO has held several community events and stakeholder meetings to discuss the WRL and the related Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) project, with more planned for July. Earlier this year, it released a VNI West consultation report calling for community input including on the location for a new terminal station linking VNI West to the WRL. A state government spokesperson previously told The Courier: "AEMO have listened to feedback and is consulting on alternatives that will deliver better outcomes for local communities and energy consumers". Premier Daniel Andrews says the state government's role in the project is to prepare an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) - expected to be released later this year. "We're not the proponent of this project," he told The Courier on a recent visit to Ballarat. "We're there to assess it under very detailed, important criteria and that assessment will be a genuine assessment," he said. Renewable energy advocates say the EES process the WRL is going through is "one of the most rigorous planning assessments in the country, requiring a high level of consultation with communities". "We encourage communities to engage with this process to ensure that the shift to renewable energy is centred on their needs," RE-Alliance's Victoria/Tasmania coordinator Tony Goodfellow said. Have you tried The Courier's app? It can be downloaded here.