Government Sanctions Trespass
Whakatane Farmer Mr Robert Brosnahan told the Commerce Select Committee this week how the entire Ohope Township is benefiting from a main electricity pole placed illegally on his land. Mr Brosnahan, together with Federated Farmers representatives, appeared before the Committee at hearings on the Electricity Industry Bill.
The Brosnahan family's trust has tried quietly to rectify this situation for the best part of 16 years. "Our family has always been helpful to the lines companies. But having succeeded in placing this main pole and other power poles on our property without our knowledge, let alone our agreement, Horizon Energy and the Bay of Plenty Power Board before them have been reluctant to sort it out" said Mr Brosnahan.
"The government's move to retrospectively deem the poles as being lawfully fixed has been the last straw," he said. "The government is effectively sanctioning trespass. " How many more farmers are there out there in the same position?" asks Mr Brosnahan. It would seem that the government simply doesn't care. It has introduced this legislation without any publicity. It has made no effort to let landowners know."
"Farmers like myself will need to think about the implications of this legislation it is forced through. Over the years, we have allowed poles and pylons on our properties for the good of the community. Now everything has changed. We are going to be obliged to take responsibility for the power line corridors and to accept liability if things go wrong."
"It is not just a simple issue. For instance, should a tree on my property cause outages for the residents of Ohope or my neighbours I could be personally liable. Also, the presence of lines can restrict farming activities and can impact substantially on land use choices such as forestry.
"All the residents of Ohope benefit from the presence of poles on our property but we have to accept the costs and risks" said Mr Brosnahan
Federated Farmers has subsequently learned of more examples of electricity lines and poles being placed on farms without the owners' agreement. Federated Farmers is urging those who feel they may be affected by this draconian, retrospective legislation to urgently contact the federation.