Campaign to bury pylons gains momentum
Campaigners hoping to convince Transpower to bury overhead powerlines blighting some Auckland suburbs say the priority is those crossing the water in Onehunga.
The Bury the Pylons campaign aims to see the powerlines that stretch across Mt Roskill, Hillsborough and Onehunga put underground.
A petition started circulating in July and this week reached the 1000-signature milestone.
Last week those involved in the campaign hit the streets of Onehunga to bolster numbers and while there Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff, who has been calling for the lines to be buried for years, told of the importance of at least ridding the Onehunga foreshore of the pylons.
The foreshore is undergoing a $28 million replenishment.
"Onehunga Bay is the gateway to Auckland," he says. "Everyone who comes to Auckland drives through and their abiding memories of the Manukau Harbour would be these dirty great pylons.
"If you ask where it should start, across the Manukau foreshore is the most intrusive area. It's an idea whose time has come."
He says the campaigners would ideally like to have 4000 to 5000 signatures on the petition.
"Then we would like to try and get to select committee," Mr Goff says.
"This is not a cheap thing so we are asking for a cross-party committee. It won't happen overnight but let's get a commitment."
Transpower says it has no plans to put any existing overheard wires underground. New powerlines are buried.
Spokeswoman Rebecca Wilson says that to put specific sections underground - for instance, across the Onehunga foreshore - can be problematic.
"It's difficult to underground short sections as part of a longer section and I know there's also issues with undergrounding on the seabed," she says.
On the street in Onehunga passersby supported the campaign but knew changes would not happen quickly.
Ana Metcalfe says: "They've been there a long time, and even if they underground selective parts I realise it's going to cost a lot of money."
Resident Gladys Crilly agreed. "I would like to see them go, it would be nice to see a clear outlook out my window. But it would probably cost a lot."
Onehunga-based Labour MP Carol Beaumont says there is a huge groundswell behind the cause.
"Getting people to sign this petition is the easiest thing I've ever done," she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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