Thursday, 28 January 2010

Pylon pressure – more State bullying

Does Transpower have freely negotiated easements over farmers’ land, or does it not?

If not, then it owes an apology to everyone from farmer Steve Meier on down for using the powers of the state to march unwanted onto someone else’s property.  And for relying on such bullying as their primary means of protecting Auckland’s power supply.

Frankly, if any part of that is true then the whole situation is a disgrace from arse to elbow.
Just what the hell does Transpower CEO Patrick Strange think he’s doing bad-mouthing those whose property he is so shamefully abusing.  Just what the hell is he playing at relying on the good will of those he’s abusing to maintain a secure power supply to the country’s biggest city. The arse he’s sitting on needs kicking from here to Matangi.

Janet Wilson reckons Transpower's bullying of farmers over access shows the organisation as “a bureaucratic monster that embodies the worst faults of a giant government-owned corporation.”  And who could disagree.  She says:
    “Dr Strange may think he can ignore public opinion because he has the power of the state behind Transpower in what it does.”
That would appear to be precisely the case.  As I’ve said here many times before.


  1. Small comfort that thankfully NZ does not have eminent domain for the private sector. It's one of the most corrupted features of capitalism in the US.

    I've seen it used in effect in the UK too, as councils in partnership with property developers strongarm homeowners from areas for "regeneration". It means buying out homeowners for low prices under threat that if they don't they'll be forced out, and then upgrading the properties and reselling them for many many more times the price paid for it. The developers COULD just offer to buy from the owners, but that requires too much effort, and councils are often looking for reasons to "regenerate" places left blighted by crime, lack of infrastructure and to get central government subsidies at the same time.

    Oops, bit of a tangent

  2. doesn't Wilson work for Banksie now?

  3. To be fair, it's probably not as simple as whether there's a legal easement or not.

    There probably is an easement. But it would be a narrow corridor beneath the power lines, and you usually need to pass over *other* private land to get to the easement corridor in the first place. The location of fences, gates, topgraphy, etc usually dictates what that access route will be.

    Normally, the easement convenant will allow this, but in a way that doesn't unduly inconvenience the owner - or words to that affect. What exactly this means can be subject to differing views.

    I was involved in a situation not too dissiimlar, where I was representing the company wanting access. The advice from our legal time on the rights of the matter was far from clear.

  4. I have to say the landowner in this case does not appear to be entirely rational.
    No utility company, state-owned or private, should be in the position of having to negotiate with someone of dubious stability, in order to secure power supplies to a large chunk of the north island. This is not satisfactory !
    And I do wonder about those trees: who planted them? And were they planted before or after the pylons were placed there?


  5. @Ponderosa: If your pylons are on his land, then you sure as hell should.

    Strange should have properly secured easements for line maintenance long ago. It seems instead that he and his company have always preferred to take the bullying route instead--and his chickens are now coming home to roost.

    (And just follow those last few links if you think that you do have to use bullying to secure a power supply.)

  6. From what I read Transpower had been trying for months to arrange access to complete the tree trimming.

    What do you think is reasonable?

  7. V

    I'm not familiar with all the details of the situation that exists between this particular individual and the T-Power people. In general the answer to your question would depend on what contract exists between the land-owner and T-Power. In the absence of an agreement then they need to negotiate for as long as it takes to get one. That may mean, horrors, that T-Power have to pay the landowner money. And that is likley to be a precedent they do not want to set...


  8. @V
    If Transpower had been trying for months to gain access to undertake the tree trimming, then it appears to me that the appropriate easements did not exist or maybe the terms of any easement had been forced on the farmer by the state. Either way, why is the farmer then to blame when the state wants to enter his property against the wishes of the property owner?


  9. I think on this one you are off beam. The Green post was LOL. The farmer purchased a property with freely negotiated easements for maintenance access. Transpower have the legal right of entry but did not enforce that contractual right in the face of opposition from the new owner.

    He is trying to extort Transpower into changing the terms of the contract ( paying him large sums of money for access previously granted for free).

    Either you believe in the law of contract or you don't.

    Personally I see this as being little different from the unionists who strike at Christmas.

    Release the storm of opprobrium. :^)

  10. Phil

    It depends on what was sold to the new landowner, what is in the title document and what the specific details of any easements actually are. Were the easements "freely negotiated" or were they imposed by compulsion? If by compulsion, then no consent is possible, hence it can be argued, neither is any obligation to comply.

    When it comes to agreements and contracts, it is always possible to re-enter negotiations to deal with variances, to make amendments, to deal with occurances & situations not specifically outlined in the original agreement & to allow for changes in circumstances and so on. Nothing wrong with that so long as one party isn't coercing the other with force or fraud.

    As far as employees striking at Christmas is concerned, that is a different situation. Still, it depends on what has been voluntarily agreed and what the specific terms of any agreement are. On a personal note, this situation developed at a company I once consulted for. In order to keep things going over the high season the demands for higher wages and benefits were accepted. Within five months every person involved was redundant or dismissed. None of them received favourable references (in fact the executive made it their business to inform other companies of the situation and distributed "do not recommend" advice). Most of the business was out-sourced overseas. It was impressive to witness how rapidly the whole unwinding process occurred. The owners were aware they were dealing with the survival of their organisation as a profit making enterprise so that sure got them focussed on what they had to do.

    Returning to this pylons situation, it all depends on what was voluntarily agreed between the parties. Was there an agreement?



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