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Collins Comments: Pylons - a danger for Ardmore

Collins Comments
Judith Collins Clevedon MP
1 April 2005

Pylons - a danger for Ardmore Flyers

The proposed 70m Transpower pylons would be a safety hazard for Ardmore Airport. The pylons and cables would be an aviation accident waiting to happen. Here is yet another reason why the proposed pylons should either go underground through Clevedon, under the sea or up the Waikato River!

Ardmore Airport has hosted meetings with Transpower representatives. At the beginning of the month Transpower people were taken on an aerial excursion over the proposed route.

The purpose of the excursion was to demonstrate the critical safety issues operators at Ardmore Airport would face if Transpower place 70m pylons and heavy cables (including a top-of-pylon earth wire which is impossible to see) diagonally across the Clevedon Valley. This would cross the east/west approach to one of the airport runways. Ardmore is the busiest airport in New Zealand.

One concern is the proposed pylons on Brookby Hill. The Brookby area is a transit route for helicopters which have a ceiling restriction of 800ft (244m). Many times helicopters legally fly well below this height particularly when there is low cloud with poor visibility. Brookby Hill is 617ft (188m) above sea level – a 70m or 230ft pylon would make flying in the area dangerous in poor weather.

The same applies to aircraft flying through the Valley to get to Ardmore Airport. The weather clamps down quickly which means some planes are flying well below 500ft. To compound the problem, many operators are young pilots on their first or second solo flight (Ardmore is a training establishment). I was told of one incident where a trainee pilot was caught out by bad weather and had to be guided via radio by a senior instructor under very low cloud. The plane was no more than 50ft (15m) above the present cables and pylons that intersect the Clevedon Valley.

Planes and helicopters can be forced to fly at low levels in poor conditions. This means pylons and cables become a major hazard. This needs to be taken into account by Transpower. The Minister for Energy, Trevor Mallard, continues to do and say nothing about this issue.


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