Transpower on another collision course with farmers

Sunday 11 April 2010, 8:40PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand


Transpower must agree access arrangements as the final part of the upgrade to the Roxburgh to Islington electricity transmission line, starting Monday, will need additional private land.

“Turn off the bulldozers, send away the concrete trucks and sit down with the farmers and negotiate access properly,” urges Philip York, Federated Farmers electricity spokesman.

“Transpower clearly doesn’t have access rights under the Electricity Act as it’s trying to expand the amount of land occupied by its transmission towers. Any work on its transmission lines and towers must stay within the existing footprint and envelope of those towers.

“Despite this, Transpower wants to strengthen the footings of some transmission towers, which involves expanding the area of land occupied by these towers. Without agreement from the land owners involved Transpower will be grabbing privately owned land. Without an access agreement in place, Federated Farmers believes this will also involve trespass.

“Transpower cannot pull the safety card as this is clearly a planned capacity upgrade. It cannot claim that without this strengthening work, all the towers involved are now dangerous. It cannot say it’s an emergency either and they need to undertake this strengthening work to ensure the safety of the towers.

“I am advised that the law is very clear, Transpower should have ensured that all the access arrangements it needed were in place, before stringing extra lines onto these towers.

“No amount of spin, both publicly and privately, in letters to the landowners involved, can alter the fact Transpower doesn’t have access rights. The only way forward for them is to negotiate access with the land owners involved. If those negotiations fail, then Transpower has recourse under the Public Works Act to obtain the easements it needs.

“Furthermore, as a State Owned Enterprise, it’s grossly irresponsible for Transpower to be pressing ahead in the cavalier way that it is.

“If Transpower proceeds over the objections of the landowners involved, those landowners are entitled to go to the Courts. Members of Federated Farmers can dial 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646) on Monday to speak with our lawyers. We feel a Court may order Transpower to cease works until it has a proper agreement in place with the landowners involved.

“Transpower must follow the lead of the mobile operators as right now, they don’t pay a bean for the land a large percentage of its transmission infrastructure is sitting upon. It’s getting a lot for nothing.

“So it’s time to stop mucking around and get a comprehensive land compensation agreement in place based on this century and not the 1950s.

“Having alerted a member of Transpower’s senior management team this morning, I’m frankly shocked at the response I’ve had. Instead of shooting the messenger it’s time to listen to the message and that’s to do the right thing,” Mr York concluded.