Power line corridors subject of debate

Transpower's transmission corridors will be the subject of debate for three days from tomorrow as a Central Otago District Council hearings panel considers the controversial plan change 8.

The state-owned enterprise, which owns the transmission network by which generators such as Contact Energy and TrustPower provide electricity to consumers, is seeking amendments to the Central Otago district plan.

Under the Government's National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission (2008), which deals with the operation, maintenance and upgrading of transmission resources, councils were required to review their own plans.

The CODC's public notification of plan change 8 in April last year included submissions by Transpower to increase transmission corridors from 12m to 32m, a move that prompted more opposition than support as affected parties voiced concern about restrictions on farming activities, general land use and resource consent implications.

However, since lodging its original submission, Transpower has completed a technical analysis that has resulted in a change of approach.

Instead of seeking a typical width of 32m, the transmission company is now largely requesting a 12m ''set-back'' from the centre-line of the transmission line and around support structures.

''Within this corridor we suggest all activity that is potentially incompatible with the transmission line should require resource consent,'' Geoff Wishart, Transpower project communications manager, said.

This includes residences, milking sheds and intensive development in urban fringe and rural areas, substantial extensions to existing buildings and major earthworks (primarily those around the foundations of the transmission towers that could undermine them or materially reduce clearances to live conductors).

''Of course, there is a great deal of activity that can go on within that 12m corridor without any suggestion of resource consent,'' Mr Wishart said.

''Our approach is very much focused now on that 12m only - and only activities that are incompatible.''

However, there are notable exceptions where Transpower will still seek 32m or more. And it is all a matter of definition, the company splitting its corridors into two designations, ''transmission yards'' and ''transmission corridors''.

The former is based on how much power lines of 110kV or more would swing given ''everyday'' wind conditions and maintenance; the latter category is based on how much the lines would move in high winds.

''Transmission corridors'' would require more land (between 16m and 37m) and were, according to Transpower's submission, largely aimed at curbing the subdividing of land near transmission lines and structures.

Below are examples of some areas where such ''transmission corridor'' restrictions would apply:

16m: Gore-Roxburgh A (110kV transmission line on poles).

32m: Cromwell-Frankton A; Halfway Bush-Roxburgh A (110kV transmission line on towers).

37m: Roxburgh-Three Mile Hill A; Invercargill-Roxburgh A; Invercargill-Roxburgh B; Roxburgh-Islington A; Roxburgh-Twizel A (220kV transmission line on towers).

A three-person hearings panel comprising John Lane (chairman), Terry Emmitt and Martin McPherson will consider plan change 8 for three days, starting tomorrow at 11am at the Central Otago District Council Chambers (subsequent days begin at 9.30am).

The meeting is open to the public.

 

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