Power pylons bring out protestors
A petition to rid the central Auckland landscape of giant power pylons has started with a jolt.
The Bury the Pylons campaign being launched by Roskill Community Voice attracted more than 120 people to the St David’s in the Fields Church hall last weekend, campaign organiser Garth Houltham says.
‘‘People spoke up about the fundamental unfairness of our community carrying the burden of massive high voltage power pylons through our neighbourhoods and across the Manukau Harbour,’’ he says.
‘‘We know that this simply wouldn’t be accepted in suburbs along the Waitemata Harbour.’’
There are about 62 pylons in the Puketapapa area, many of which are on residential property.
Having the pylons buried is a big goal, according to a discussion document by Transpower whichsays while it will do so with any new urban lines, the cost of lowering existing ones is prohibitively expensive.
Transpower says the cost of undergrounding runs from $5 million to $15m per kilometre. To put all of Trans- power’s 400km of urban lines underground would cost $4 billion. In the discussion paper Transpower says it would rather underground its cables but the economics are not viable.
‘‘We support undergrounding. Economics aside we would prefer not to be the ugly duckling in the community.
‘‘We will always attempt to help those who seek ways to lessen the impact of overhead transmission lines.
‘‘However, we are rarely a material beneficiary of undergrounding the lines.’’
The document says there have been instances of undergrounding of the existing lines in Auckland but this was mostly funded by private groups developing land, for example at the Highbrook business park.
But Roskill Community Voice member David Holm believes it could be done.
‘‘Over the next three years Transpower will give central government over $500 million in dividends, so we know that it can be done,’’ he says.
Roskill Community Voice has worked with MP for Mt Roskill Phil Goff to officially launch the petition.
Mr Goff has been calling for the undergrounding of the cables since earlier this year.
The formal parliamentary petition that asks all relevant stakeholders to come together and develop a responsible plan to bring down the pylons.
Mr Houltham says the campaign is fundamentally about fairness.
‘‘Our community should have the same right to enjoy our properties and environment as any other,’’ he says.
‘‘We believe that Roskill has been overlooked in many ways over the years, and we are saying that it is time for our community to get a fair go.’’
Unwanted: Power pylons have long been a contentious issue for the people whose properties they affect.