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Transpower’s landgrab bigger issue than foreign ownership

14 March 2012

Transpower’s landgrab bigger issue than foreign ownership

Federated Farmers is concerned Transpower is attempting to use councils’ district plan processes to nationalise up to 42,000 hectares (ha) of private property. This is because the State Owned Enterprise is requesting that Western Bay of Plenty District Council create 32 metre wide buffer zones either side of Transpower’s transmission lines on private land under its district plan.

The buffer zones will restrict landowner rights and normal farming activities within a vast swathe of private land, without compensation.

“It is deeply concerning Transpower is trying to use district plan processes to achieve a result it ought to get through negotiation with landowners,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers electricity spokesperson.

“Developments in the Western Bay of Plenty District potentially set a major and disturbing precedent. Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty province has submitted strongly against the proposed buffer zones and is organising landowner groups to support the cause.

“If Transpower has its way there, it will control 64 metre wide strips of private land. In comparison, a typical two way urban road is around 14 metres wide. Why does Transpower need so much land?

“We believe this is a disingenuous way of gaining substantial commercial benefits at landowners’ expense, using the community-owned Resource Management Act (RMA) process. Federated Farmers thinks Transpower is trying to sidestep compensation to landowners.

“Some people are telling me Transpower is trying to exploit a loophole in the RMA, which says no compensation is payable when landowners are affected by District Plan rules.

“There is no way Federated Farmers will accept a State Owned Enterprise forcing legal landowners into the farcical situation of applying for resource consents to use their own land because it has been labelled a transmission buffer zone.

“If applied nationally, we are talking about tens of thousands of hectares of private land potentially affected and regulated. That is a lot of disgruntled people if Transpower doesn’t wish to sit down and negotiate terms with landowners.

“Federated Farmers will fight the Western Bay of Plenty District Council proposal, and any other, every step of the way. We also hope councils will have the sense to steer well clear of allowing their plans process to be manipulated to achieve a business objective,” Mr Leferink concluded.

ENDS

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