19 Sep 2011

Transpower to apply to Environment Court over pylon dispute

6:31 am on 19 September 2011

Transpower expects to make an application to the Environment Court this week seeking access to a South Canterbury farm whose owner has been locked in a long-running dispute with the company over compensation.

Farm owner Jeremy Talbot is one of 150 landowners affected by work started in 2009 to strengthen the foundations of pylons carrying the Islington-Roxburgh transmission line that supplies electricity to Christchurch.

Transpower regards the work as essential maintenance and says it has reached agreement with most of the landowners to go on to their land to carry out the work.

The national lines company says it's offered to purchase easements to the properties and to compensate landowners for any temporary disturbance.

But Mr Talbot disagrees that the work is maintenance.

He says it is part of major upgrading work that has been going on for several years to increase the carrying capacity of the transmission system, a process called duplexing.

"If you've doubled the capacity of the line and doubled the weight being carried by the pylon, and you also then strengthen the foot of the foundation to take the extra weight that is not maintenance, that is an upgrade."

Mr Talbot says that should require a different level of compensation and he wants the same deal that he says Transpower has offered to Otago farmers for upgrading work affecting their properties.

"The farmers would be paid this one-off disturbance rate of $4000 per pylon."

He says they would then be paid varying amounts depending on how many pylons they had on their properties.

Mr Talbot says two pylons on his land are earmarked for strengthening.

Transpower says while compensation payments to Otago farmers have been discussed, none has been made yet as that work has not started.

But it still argues that that project is different to the work under dispute in South Canterbury.