27 May 2013

Hort NZ and Transpower sign agreement

6:32 am on 27 May 2013

Horticulture New Zealand and Transpower have signed an agreement with the aim of trying to avoid the sorts of disputes that the lines company is having with farmers in some areas.

Farmers have been challenging the national grid operator's push to have buffer zones for transmission lines and towers crossing farmland built into district plans, with controls on farming activities within those zones.

The issue has been put to the test in a number of districts, including western Bay of Plenty and Waimate, where there is on-going mediation.

Horticulture New Zealand says it's also an issue for orchardists, up to 70 in the Western Bay of Plenty alone, who have high voltage transmission lines crossing their land.

Environment manager Chris Keenan said the memorandum of understanding with Transpower is designed to find solutions that will work for both the company and growers.

He said some structures in the horticultural businesses cause lines companies concern, such as shelter belts or big plantations of avocado trees.

Mr Keenan said an agreement has been reached which will encourage best practice around those lines and provide access to maintain them.

He said growers recognise the importance of the national grid and the agreement also recognises the importance of growers being able to use their land to its most productive extent.

Mr Keenan said the agreement will allow growers to negotiate solutions for individual properties.