Power line compensation anger

27 Nov, 2002 10:00 PM
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WESTERN Power's decision to pay $350,000 compensation to the Department of Conservation and Land Management for installation of power lines on private land has caused an angry reaction from farmers.

The issue evolved around the installation of another 132,000-volt (132k V) transmission line between Pinjar and Eneabba, with most of the $350,000 allocated for 31 hectares of land between Cataby and Eneabba.

Twenty six hectares of the 31ha was on private land.

This has incensed farmers further south who will soon see similar size power lines stretching across their properties from Waterloo to Busselton.

The Valuer General was yet to make a decision on their compensation claim for loss of current and future productivity, but farmers weren't confident about receiving what they considered to be fair compensation.

WAFarmers Vasse Zone president Greg Chapman said that in some cases farmers were being pressed to accept much less than full compensation while being quoted for full costings to upgrade existing lines to meet farm expansion programs.

"Farmers need resource protection and when these resources are interfered with farmers need to be justly compensated for losses of these resources," he said.

He believed Western Power saw farmers as soft targets when it came to compensation for high-tension power lines erected on premium farmland.

WAFarmers legal officer Phil Brunner said Western Power was adopting a policy, where for lines of less than 200k V, compensation would be offered for farmers agreeing to provide an easement on their properties.

But if landowners did not agree with the amount of compensation the power lines could still go ahead. "Either you accept no compensation or minimal compensation," he said.

Mr Brunner said it was questionable that compensation for loss of public good on private land should go to CALM when the public did not have access to private land.

Western Power networks general manager Doug Aberle said criticism about compensation paid to CALM for the proposed new transmission line between the Pinjar gas turbine station near Wannaroo, and Eneabba, had missed the point.

He said the Environmental Protection Authority insisted native vegetation in the Agricultural Area removed or disturbed by the power lines should be replaced.

"This could be done by buying another piece of land carrying native vegetation or making funds available to CALM or the Conservation Commission for specific purposes," he said.

The Agricultural Area excluded parts of the South West.

"Western Power agreed in discussions with these two groups to make available a total of $350,000 for these environmental offsets," Mr Aberle said.

He said that in regards to Waterloo-Busselton compensation was negotiable but inevitably landowners wanted more than could be justified by valuation which could be based on possible and unsubstantiated future land uses.

"The bottom line is that the South West region must have the extra energy the transmission line will provide," he said.

The route for the line was adjusted many times to take into account individual landowner requests and to minimise the impact on landowners and environment. Normal agricultural activity is not affected."

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