Sunday 15 November 2015

Public meeting: Pylon Pollution - what next?

Where to now in the battle against pylon pollution?



Hon. Phil Goff - MP For Mt Roskill
Jim Jackson – Chair of the Manukau Harbour Restoration Society, CEO of Jackson Electrical
David Holm - Member of the Puketapapa Local Board
Simon Randall - Chair of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board

In August 2013, Roskill Community Voice, a team contesting the Puketapapa Local Board Election,launched a petition aimed at progressing the undergrounding of the high voltage electricity transmission and removal of pylons which blight many areas of Auckland and some other urban areas. This followed from a discussion document by the national electricity grid operator Transpower  in April 2013 on undergrounding.

Two identical petitions, one centred on Onehunga led by Carol Beaumont and the other in Hillsborough and Mt. Roskill led by David Holm, now a Board Member, received widespread support with a total of 2816 signatures verified. It was presented to Parliament's Commerce Committee in December 2013 by Phil Goff , M.P. For Mt. Roskill.

The petitions sought a commitment to “undergrounding high-voltage transmission lines through urban areas over a reasonable period of time having regard to the resources this entails” using money set aside from Transpower's annual dividends to meet the long term costs. It also asked for  investigation of technology, planning requirements and resourcing to achieve cost effective solutions to undergrounding.

The Commerce Committee conducted hearings into the petitions in April 2014 and May and June 2015. Transpower responded to the petition in a letter dated 5 December 2014 which was provided to the petitioners for a response made in April 2015. The Electricity Authority and the  Commerce Commission also presented responses to the petitions.

The Committee Report on the petitions was released in Sepember 2015. The majority stated that “We do not believe that a Government inquiry could add much more value at this point.”  The three Labour members of the Committee provided a minority report stating that “Transpower and the Government majority on the committee ignore the overwhelming views expressed by local people. They do not want transmission lines and pylons over their properties or to damage sensitive environmental areas like Onehunga and Hillsborough Bays.”


The recently opened  Onehunga Foreshore restoration and the tunneling of the Waterview Connection shows that concerted public advocacy for environmental restoration can persuade government infrastructure providers to invest in improvements.

Transpower has ceased using pylons for new projects in urban areas.There are opportunities to engage with their Environment Manager and the Transpower Community Care Fund which assists communities affected by Transpower assets or projects.

The petitions were supported by Chairs of five local boards and more are sympathetic.

The 2016 local elections offers opportunities to gain support for undergrounding through pledges from candidates for Mayor, Auckland Council and local boards.

The new Auckland Council development agency Panuku Development Auckland is keen on unlocking opportunities in Onehunga including the port area and may be encouraged to help investigate the benefits from more efficient land use without pylons.

Please come along and give us your responses to these suggestions and any other ideas for future actions. You can also reach us by email at and on Facebook at