Call to bury power lines next to new road

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014

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A group of Waikanae residents is calling on Transpower to use work on the Kapiti Expressway as an ideal opportunity to re-route high-voltage power lines underground.

Go Underground Waikanae has collected 900 signatures urging the lines company to take down pylons that run through built-up areas, including a retirement village and Waikanae Park, and run the 220,000-watt lines underground beside the expressway.

The group believes the lines threaten the health of people living in about 60 houses under and near them, devalue properties and are a blot on the landscape.

Transpower has outlined three options for replacing 50-year-old wires, one of which includes replacing them with others of greater width and capacity, which would require increasing the height of some of the pylons.

Go Underground Waikanae convener Don Liddle said now was the perfect time to put the wires underground from north of the Waikanae River to Smithfield Rd, on the outskirts of the town, at the same time as major earthworks were under way for the expressway.

Waikanae Community Board chairman Michael Scott said it had also urged Transpower to put the lines underground. "When you see the vast scale of the work going on for the expressway, it beggars belief those two organisations cannot get together and bury the cables as they run through Waikanae."

The New Zealand Transport Agency said it buried significant lengths of transmission lines when they intercepted with construction of the expressway. More than a kilometre of power lines will be underground by the time it is completed.

There were only two pylons in the expressway corridor through Waikanae, and NZTA was working with Transpower to make adjustments to them.

However, running the lines underground throughout the town would be a completely different project.

"Any undergrounding must provide benefits to the construction and operation of the expressway before we can justify investing in it."

Transpower said its Bunnythorpe-Haywards project, now under way in the Kapiti region, involved replacing ageing conductors on the lines.

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- The Dominion Post

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