Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Piling on the pylon pressure

Transpower have announced the route through which it plans to force its line of pylons through the Waikato, unswayed by the pleas of farmers over whose land these pylons are being forced, and of a government previously eager to have the issue resolved post-election.

The Waikato Times reports, "Transpower communication manager Chris Roberts said staff would hand-deliver letters to about 600 landowners today confirming a western route had been chosen for the transmission line from Whakamaru to Otahuhu." Along that western route Transpower will be entering into what they've called 'negotiations' with land-owners -- negotiations in which Transpower will be reminding landowners that if they don't accept the compensation offered then Transpower will be using the big stick of the Public Works Act to force them to accept.

There's not really much I can add to what I said back in May.
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 [from willing sellers] 100% of the necessary options along that route. The Kapuni gas line 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.
It's pretty clear that there's bugger all respect for property rights about. This year has also made it pretty clear that 'compensation for takings' is not by any means the same thing as protecting property rights, despite what some people still think. Do you think that Kelo v New London and the Transpower land grab might help convince them, and will it be too late?


  1. 'Whakamaru' is a massive volcanic caldera. Transpower is putting the 2nd most crucial powerline in the country across one of the most volcanically active areas of the planet. They already have its continuation near Ruapehu crossing a known major lahar flow route.

    And of course the Cook Straight cable is stuffed as soon as Wellington has a big earthquake (faultlines extend beneath the straight to the northeastern tip of the South Island) ....

    Do these people actually consult with geologists and other earth scientists?

  2. Lemur raised a good point, and I think the solution to all this problem is to let the north island have its own power supply. In practical terms, this means a nuclear power plant (gas or oil: too expensive. coal: too much polution. hydrolic: need to create some new rivers first), which is another political land mine. Labor is too chicken to take on this issue seriously, however.

    I can definitely understand why the land owners are upset, and this cannot be compared to rail road or gas line because pylons pose a health threat. I usually dismiss claims about cell phones frying your brain (they don't), but pylons create a much, much stronger electro-magnetic field. I wouldn't be surprised if that contributes to a greater risk of cancer. I think to ask those people to directly suffer for the rest of us is unfair. Then again, if we build a nuclear power plant, people living next to it might consider it a hazard, too. But that is if only anything goes wrong, as opposed to pylons, which most likely will cause problems when it's functioning normally.


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