26 Jan 2010

Waikato power line dispute won't be the only one - farmers

12:51 pm on 26 January 2010

Farmers with transmission lines running through their properties say a stand-off between a Waikato farmer and Transpower on Monday, won't be the last.

A fire beneath lines on a farm in Waikato caused widespread power cuts in Auckland and Northland.

Farmer Steve Meier says he warned Transpower on many occasions that trees under the lines needed trimming but he's been in a dispute with the company over access to the property for the past five years.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee is backing Transpower, saying it's been unreasonably denied access to to essential maintenance.

But Mr Meier is getting the support of other farmers who have also had access issues with the company.

They include a South Canterbury farmer, Jeremy Talbot, who's part of a landowners group there who have a long-running dispute with Transpower over upgrading and increasing the number of lines crossing their properties.

He says a sticking point in getting an access agreement sortred out has been the issue of who's liable for injury or accidents involving lines crews coming on to farms to do maintenance or upgrading work.

He says neither OSH or Fed Farmers could give a definitive ruling on the matter

Federated Farmers has been trying to negotiate an annual rental agreement with Transpower to provide compensation for power pylons on private land..

Electricity spokesperson, Philip York says there have been some minor breakthroughs in getting access and compensation agreements between farmers and power companies for new or upgraded transmission lines, but not for existing lines.