Last night’s Community Board meeting had a presentation by Dean Scott of this state-owned enterprise on this topic.
In essence, trees cannot come within 4 metres of high voltage power lines — those that go across Waikanae Park are 220 kV — or there is a risk of flashover. At 5 metres from the lines, Transpower will issue trimming notices to tree owners.
The trees in Waikanae Park are, of course, owned by the council. Transpower says it will pay for this work itself, restore ground that may get chewed up by its heavy machinery and replace felled trees with new plantings.
There are the big issues, however, of visual appeal, bird life, and the fostering of native trees species.
Mr Scott said that there are limits to the number of times that trees can be topped before their shape is ruined, and we know from our experience that it encourages sideways growth. The natural shape of a tree is what makes its beauty.
They expect to do 1,000 sq metres (a quarter acre) of tree felling a year.
WCB member Tonchi Begovich was unhappy with spoiling the landscape by chopping down trees and asked whether Transpower had looked at raising the heights of the pylons instead. Yes, they had, but that would cost more and wasn’t in their budget. And if they did this for Kapiti people it would set a precedent for having to do it everywhere.
The pictures above taken this morning show the area where the powerlines cross the park and at least some of the trees likely to be affected.
There are some redwoods in the area concerned apparently, although we only saw macrocarpa.
If the power lines had been buried below ground, as many agitated for when the Ewy was being built, the issue wouldn’t exist. But that is not going to happen now.