Govt looks to solve pylons access dispute

The Government is looking at ways to help break the impasse between Transpower and South Island landowners seeking compensation for pylons on their land, but is disappointed threats are being made, Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The South Canterbury landowners say they are frustrated that four years of negotiations have failed to result in what they consider fair compensation for use of their land.

Major upgrade work on the Roxburgh-Islington line is almost complete, but critical maintenance work is still to be done on the foundations of about 20 pylons.

Transpower said landowners had been offered "easement" payments which were taken up by some. Negotiations with others has stalled and some farmers have closed their gates to the company for everything but emergency work until they get what they consider a satisfactory outcome.

A meeting of the South Canterbury Federated Farmers pylon committee this week issued an ultimatum giving Transpower seven days to reach an agreement or padlocks go on gates.

Mr Brownlee told Radio New Zealand this morning the Government was reluctant to step in and try to mediate when landowners were applying a "gun to the head" approach to the situation.

He said he had met Federated Farmers, which had submitted a proposal. That was being reviewed independently and the next step would be taken once that review was complete.

"But to be told that we have five days or whatever it is, or it's not happening, I think is pretty disappointing."

Federated Farmers thought landowners should get annual rental payments, whereas the Government generally supported a one-off payment policy.

Federated Farmers electricity spokesman Philip York said the hosting of pylons was a raw issue with farmers in South Canterbury and beyond, and suggested the situation may need intervention by the Environment Court.

"But you cannot help but think that lining the pockets of high priced lawyers could be avoided by a simple commercial expediency. That expediency is giving farmers the option of receiving annual payments with periodic review," Mr York said.

Federated Farmers and Transpower are scheduled to meet today to discuss the issue further.

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In this country, the generation, transmission and retailing of electricity is still essentially a monopolistic activity, generating huge profits. Transpower should be obliged to pay the farmers for pylon hosting. Payment should regular and reviewable. In this way the true costs of siting generators and transmission lines should be factored into the future planning of the industry. Farmers, hang tough!

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Shame us Maori's didn't have the farm land - we would get millions out of it!!! Haha

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Surely a 'Public Works' type Act is in order here enforcing access.

Most of the moaners will be guys who have brought the land post the pylons and would have been well aware of the fact that they would need to provide access

They will only be trying to climb on the gravy train

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How many of these farms were bought without the pylons already on them? I'm guessing very few. If you purchase a farm with pylons on it you cannot expect to get annual rental payments in the future when this access arrangement is already established and strategically important for the reliable supply of power. Overseas rental payments have been very complicated and costly - consumers will pay. As these farms have doubled in value over the last few years the Gov't cannot afford to buy them all. The Gov't should look at forcing farmers to sell the 20m strip under the pylons along the entire grid at fair market value (at a fraction of the cost of perpetual annual payments or buying the whole farm). Otherwise these farmers will hold the country to ransom!

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When you buy a farm with pylons on it, you pay less for it than the equivalent property without pylons. The owner when the pylons were planted was paid the compensation. When he sells, he is prepared to accept less as he already has Transpower's money in the bank. The current owner can't expect a 'windfall' payment as well when he has already received the benefit in the form of a low farm price. If the original price was fair (and the Public Works Act spells out what the fair price is), there are no grounds for a review. Only if additional building is required should the matter be re-opened.

If these farmers are paid for existing access rights, there will be no end of re-opening what were previously considered 'full and final settlements' of access compensation claims under the PWA. I guess it would be really great to get more money for allowing the new crown fibre company to push a fibre through the duct for which the previous owner was compensated for the copper poked through it by the Post Office more than 50 years ago. Or more money because the stormwater drain running under my property continues to need inspecting.

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I think that you need to stop your ill informed comments and read the NZIER report. Over 40% of the pylons are on land that has not changed hands since they went up and NO compensation has been paid from day one and are required to be compensated for as the public works act stated in 1956 when they went up. Its just that we are sick of waiting for this to happen. I bet you wouldn't continue to suffer a $10,000 cost every year without saying nothing.

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