28 May 2009

Transpower seeks deals with landowners over pylons

8:55 pm on 28 May 2009

Transpower says forcing landowners to give up land for a new transmission line across Waikato will be a last resort.

The 400kV line, which will cost about $700 million, was approved in a draft decision by an independent Board of Inquiry on Wednesday.

The line between south Waikato and Auckland will include more than 400 pylons over a 200km route. Some will be as high as 70m.

It will affect 190 properties, mostly farms.

Transpower says it has agreement from 60% of landowners for easements on their properties.

Chief Executive Patrick Strange says a long-term partnership with landowners is needed as the lines will have to be maintained for the next 60 years, so access to the land is critical.

He says the aim is to reach agreement with landowners and using the Public Works Act to obtain the necessary land is not the way he wants to go.

Dr Strange says $120 million is available for compensation.

A North-Waikato based farmer, Rob Storey, says although there were plenty of opportunities for people to be heard during the decision-making process, it was not an even playing field.

He says the rules were against people making submissions from a limited basis of knowledge, and a limited resource behind them.

Mr Storey says he can expect to have nine pylons erected on his farm.

Reliable power for Auckland

Auckland Chamber of Commerce says the transmission line will have a positive effect on Auckland's image.

In its decision, the Board of Inquiry said the line will have adverse landscape and visual effects.

Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Michael Barnett says despite that, the line will enhance the city's image and ensure a reliable supply of electricity for residents and for business.

Transpower says work will need to start as soon as possible.