Safety sig­nage ‘in­terim mea­sure’


A two-year cam­paign to high­light safety is­sues at a South Otago boat ramp looks to have borne fruit this week.

Wai­hola Yacht Club as­so­ciate mem­ber Brian Hut­ton con­tacted the Clutha Leader re­cently to com­plain of a lack of ac­tion from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties over twin Taieri River boat launch ramps at Hen­ley, af­fected by low-hang­ing power lines.

Hut­ton first con­tacted Otago Re­gional Coun­cil - un­der whose purview the ramps fall - two years ago to bring the sit­u­a­tion to of­fi­cial at­ten­tion, but to no avail.

‘‘We were run­ning the Bridge to Bridge event which goes be­tween Hen­ley and Taieri Mouth bridges, and I couldn’t help notic­ing how close some of the masts were to hit­ting the ca­bles,’’ he said.

‘‘I re­mem­bered there were quite a few in­ci­dents in es­tu­ar­ies back in the 1970s, with elec­tric­ity ca­bles and yachts, and didn’t want anything sim­i­lar to hap­pen here.

‘‘But I con­tacted the coun­cil and they sim­ply passed the buck, sug­gest­ing per­haps we as a club should put up warn­ing signs.’’

Fur­ther re­search re­vealed power lines re­quired of­fi­cial clear­ance of just 6.7m, with yacht masts typ­i­cally 9m-plus in reach.

‘‘Well, when you’ve got sev­eral yachts en­ter­ing the water at once, no­body’s pay­ing much at­ten­tion over­head, so I wasn’t giv­ing up.’’

Fur­ther cor­re­spon­dence with the re­gional coun­cil and Clutha Dis­trict Coun­cil pro­duced no fur­ther re­sults.

So with a new boat­ing sea­son in prospect this spring, Hut­ton con­tacted the Clutha Leader and line op­er­a­tor Pow­erNet.

‘‘Pow­erNet seemed favourably dis­posed to­wards safety sig­nage when I con­tacted them, and have said they’ll look into the sit­u­a­tion more closely.’’

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil con­firmed sig­nage would be go­ing up as an ‘‘in­terim mea­sure.’’

‘‘The re­spon­si­bil­ity for iden­ti­fy­ing, as­sess­ing and man­ag­ing any crossing where elec­tric­ity ca­bles cross over a boat ramp or slip­way is gen­er­ally shared be­tween the line owner and the re­gional coun­cil,’’ a re­gional coun­cil spokesper­son said.

‘‘In the com­ing months, we will be work­ing with line op­er­a­tors to carry out on-site as­sess­ments of cross­ings where sig­nage or other agreed safety man­age­ment sys­tems would be ap­pro­pri­ate.’’

That had come as a relief to Hut­ton. ’’We just don’t want to see any­one hurt on our lo­cal patch,’’ he said.

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