03 Dec 2012

Proposed power line buffer zones alarm firms

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Written by: Hamish Fletcher
Photo by: Richard Robinson
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 03 December 2012

Transpower says the corridors are needed for proper maintenance

Proposed “buffer zones” around high-voltage power lines will stifle economic growth and make millions of dollars of land unusable, says a group of Auckland business and property owners.

Government policy dictates that councils should include an “appropriate buffer corridor” around major power lines in their district plans.

The policy statement does not, however, say how large these zones should be.

Auckland Council is addressing the size of these zones in its Unitary Plan, a draft of which is due out in March.

State-owned Transpower, which manages the national electricity grid, is suggesting a buffer zone of 24m – 12 on either side of a line – and said building or renovation projects inside these areas might need resource consents before they could go ahead. The “buffer corridors” were necessary to ensure electricity infrastructure could be operated and maintained properly, Transpower said.

But a group of 11 Auckland business and land owners, some of them based in Onehunga where Transpower lines pass through, says the proposed buffer zones are “overly restrictive and impractical”.

It is understood this group – which collectively employs 1350 people and has a combined turnover of more than $100 million – will issue a letter to Auckland Council on the perceived impact of the zones.

Companies which are part of the group and will provide briefs of evidence to the council include Ports of Auckland, the Wilson Group and Lowe Corporation.

The Business Herald has been sent some of the material set to go to local authorities, which outlined some firms’ fears on how the buffer zones could harm their growth.

“While we cannot shut down the business due to our existing commitments and obligations, we have had to cease hiring or making any capital commitments” said one firm, which did not want to be identified.

One land owner said: “On my own calculations, applying Transpower’s buffer corridor would, at today’s value, deem approximately $24 million worth of my land unusable.”

Outside Auckland, Federated Farmers said this year that the buffer zones amounted to a “land-grab” and would restrict land owner rights and normal farming activities.


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