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.