Transpower rejects land grab claim

Claims that transmission line buffer corridors being sought by Transpower would lead to a land grab and restrictions on farming activity are not true, the state-owned enterprise's chief executive, Patrick Strange, says.

In an open letter in one of New Zealand's main farming publications, Mr Strange said he wanted to present their view after "confusing and misleading" information had being put forward in the public arena.

"We are primarily concerned about the area directly below the wires and immediately next to the tower foundations. We describe this as the red zone: It is typically about 12 metres either side of the transmission line."

Activities such as new buildings, extensions to existing buildings, and major earthworks may be inappropriate in this zone. Mr Strange said these types of activities required a resource consent.

But it would not impact on farming activity such as cropping, harvesting, grazing or ploughing, he said.

"Most farmers I talk to understand that it is not wise to build structures within 12 metres of a high voltage line, and aren't of a mind to do so."

Transpower was proposing to councils to include a 20-metre "green zone" either side of the red zone where any development required no resource consent as long as it complied with the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances.

While Transpower had asked councils to make the corridor as narrow as possible, that was not their decision.

"The statutory obligation is on the individual council, not Transpower, to determine an appropriate buffer corridor width and what activities may require resource consent."

He said line buffer corridors were needed because of a requirement under the Government's National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission that all district councils include transmission line buffer corridors in their district plans, notionally by this year.

Federated Farmers have long argued the proposal amounted to a land grab by stealth.

Last month, Southburn farmer Miles Anderson spoke out against the buffer corridors at the Waimate District Council's district plan hearing.

He said farmers realised the importance of the national grid but Transpower had not paid its fair share.

"The bulk of Transpower's assets in the country are sited on land seized by the Crown, without reparation, and have no formal arrangements with the landowners."

The proposal would remove landowners' ability to fully utilise their property, he said.

The Timaru Herald