Thursday, 5 May 2005

Pylons v property rights

As Daryl Kerrigan from the film 'The Castle' used to muse, power lines are a reminder of man's ability to generate electricity. In the Waikato, they are a reminder that the government's big stick may still be used to force pylons and powerlines across unwilling farmers' property.

There's a lot of ill-feeling in the Waikato over Transpower's proposed power pylons - understandably so when you consider that Waikato farmers will likely be forced to play host to the these 70m monoliths without even being asked nicely by Transpower.

What's wrong with asking nicely? Why use the government's stick to force property owners against their will? When railroading was at its peak in 19th century America, railroads used to purchase 'options' from land-owners along their three or four preferred routes - options that would only be picked up once one of the routes became 'live' by having purchased 100% of the necessary options along that route. The Kapuni gasline that went through some years ago made use of similar undertakings.

There is no reason at all that the state-owned Transpower cannot make use of a similar voluntary mechanism to gain their transmission route, no reason at all except that as a government department they can't be bothered. To resort as they have done to wielding the bullying big stick of government is a disgrace. The present delay called by Trevor Mallard is, as Piako MP Lindsay Tisch observes, gutless and aimed simply at pushing the issue beyond the election. "All this does is leave in limbo the farmers across whose land the pylons could be going," he says. I agree with him.

I suspect Daryl Kerrigan would too.

1 comment:

  1. Presumedly a manager at Transpower thought it would be 'more efficient' to use the Public Works Act to hasten the construction process.

    Another question is why the Government continues to allow Transpower to build this link near the Taupo Volcanic Zone (an incredibly active volcanic area, but most volcano remnants form depressions or lakes so they aren't obvious to the layperson), and why its powerlines to the east and southeast of Ruapehu go over a known lahar path.


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