Landowners battle against Western Power's plans

29 Jan, 2003 10:00 PM
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WESTERN Power has disputed claims it was being arrogant when dealing with shires and landowners over the Waterloo to Busselton transmission line.

Work on the lines was well underway but compensation for affected landowners was yet to be offered, with WAfarmers Vasse Zone president Greg Chapman labelling the level of compensation initially put forward as "insulting".

Western Power was offering farmers compensation if they agreed to a 32m-wide easement on their properties, on which compensation would be based.

However, easements for 132kV power lines were not required and if farmers did not agree to an easement, the power lines could go through without easement and without compensation.

According to Western Power, Busselton could expect brown-outs (dim light) and black-outs early next year if the lines weren't commissioned before this summer.

Busselton and Dardanup Shires did not oppose the lines but were angry that in response to a request by Western Power to endorse the transmission line, the shire's request to investigate an underground transmission line had not been taken seriously.

Dardanup Shire acting chief executive officer Allan Mortimer said the council was annoyed Western Power had gone ahead with its plans anyway.

"We can't stop Busselton getting its power but we are annoyed about the way in which it was being done," he said.

The Shires have sought legal opinion on an injunction to stop work until compensation issues had been sorted out, but this was not expected to succeed.

One Busselton farmer, who had refused in writing to allow the transmission line on his property, was threatened with a Supreme Court injunction to overrule his objection. Western Power had since apologised to the farmer.

His block of land was located at Ambergate, three or four kilometres south of the Busselton Bypass, which was earmarked for future subdivision.

Busselton Shire west rural ward councillor Helen Shirvington said the land was high quality agriculture land with potential to be broken down into smaller horticulture lots.

She said scientific research was also raising more concerns about health issues related to electromagnetic fields produced by transmission lines, and believed underground power could be cheaper than what Western Power said.

Ms Shervington said it would take political intervention to ensure compensation issues were settled amicably.

"The political will is not there," she said. "Western Power was just going through the motions and their arrogance has been extraordinary."

Western Power land management coordinator Ian Buchanan said the Valuer General's office would take into account the highest and best use of the land when determining compensation. "If it's speculation, he can't," he said.

He also denied claims Western Power had taken an arrogant approach in negotiating the route of the transmission lines.

"It's something we would dispute because in the process we have taken into account people's requirements as much as we can," he said.

Mr Buchanan said Western Power had made planning changes to the route of the lines about 30 times to accommodate as many interests as possible.

Corporate affairs spokesman said Peter Winner the underground power option would never happen because it would cost about $800 million ‹ 10 times as much as the transmission line above ground.

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