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Plans for Wilton pylon upgrade concern Kedgley

14 March 2001 attention Chief Reporter

Plans for Wilton pylon upgrade concern Kedgley

Green MP Sue Kedgley is alarmed at Transpower's plans to run high voltage overhead powerlines over a school and residential area in the Otari / Wilton area on a full time basis.

Instead of using the powerlines only as backup in emergencies, Transpower plans to use them all the time as from next month.

"What concerns me is that not only do the power lines run within 10 metres of Otari School, they also run immediately overhead the adjacent Wilton housing area. This means that children in Wilton will be exposed to the health hazards of high-voltage electro-magnetic fields day and night," said Ms Kedgley.

"While Transpower believes that the power lines are crucial for the supply of electricity to Wellington, the increased usage creates an unacceptable risk for families in the Wilton area," she said. Ms Kedgley was responding to a new British study showing that children living close to electricity pylons faced a greater risk of developing leukemia. This study confirms the results of other studies, including a New Zealand study which showed electro-magnetic exposure in adults increased the risk of cancer and leukemia.

"The World Health Organisation advises prudent avoidance of exposure - and children running around under high-tension powerlines is not prudent avoidance," she said.

Ms Kedgley said the current Education Policy (Circular No 1996/12) prohibiting the placement of cell phone transmitters on Crown-owned school sites should be expanded to include pylons and high voltage wires within a 50-100 metre buffer zone around all schools, whether they were sited on Crown owned or privately owned land.

"However, the intense use of overhead power lines in low-cost residential areas is an even greater problem." Ms Kedgley said that a National Environment standard is needed under the Resource Management Act to prohibit any further housing development within a 50-100 metre zone around high voltage power lines or pylons. Where overhead lines already exist in residential housing areas, exposure should be reduced by engineering solutions such as covering the wires in metal sheaths, reducing the voltage, raising the height of the wires or limiting their usage.


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