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.