Transpower agrees to 12-metre zone

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014
South Canterbury Federated Farmers pylons group spokesman Miles Anderson.
AGREEMENT: South Canterbury Federated Farmers pylons group spokesman Miles Anderson.

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A compromise has saved taxpayers and Waimate ratepayers an estimated $50,000 in legal fees, with Transpower agreeing to retain a 12-metre buffer zone around pylons.

Transpower is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the national grid and sought to change the Waimate District Council's district plan to increase its 12-metre buffer corridor on either side of its pylons and poles to 32 metres each side.

Landowners and farmers were opposed to the change due to foreseen restriction of activities within the proposed zone, loss of productive land and negative effect on land value.

After a three-year wrangle the council, Federated Farmers and Transpower have agreed to the continuation of a 12-metre area, averting further court action and costs. The case was due to have been heard by the Environment Court in Timaru next week.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers pylons group spokesman Miles Anderson, said the result was "bittersweet".

"The outcome is one we can all live with but we should never have had to go through the process to get that. Transpower needs to take a close look at the waste of taxpayers' money," he said.

Mr Anderson is concerned for other communities as the process goes through every district council.

Waimate and Western Bay of Plenty are the first.

A commissioner ruled in 2012 that Transpower could not impose buffer zones in the Western Bay of Plenty district plans.

Mr Anderson's advice to other landowners is to be aware of their district's plan being reviewed and who is making submissions.

The original Transpower submission for the 64-metre in total no-farm buffer zone in Waimate was submitted three years ago. In 2012 the Waimate council agreed with opponents and decided not to allow the buffer zone increase and to maintain the regulations around the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice.

The code outlines the regulations and safety distances around pylons.

Transpower announced it would appeal that decision in November 2012.

After mediation between the three parties failed, the issue was set for an Environment Court hearing this year.

But now an agreement, which has been ratified by the court, has halted any further hearings.

Transpower spokeswoman Rebecca Wilson said different regions had different requirements.

Ms Wilson said about 50 per cent of district plans have allowed for transmission line corridors.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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