Mangatapu residents say Transpower's plan to relocate a major power line will simply move a 60-year-old problem somewhere else.
Yesterday independent commissioners Greg Hill and Antoine Coffin heard a second day of evidence over Transpower's resource consent applications.
The national grid operator sought to relocate a section of line to align with State Highway 29A between Matapihi and Maungatapu.
The commissioners heard "phenomenal" and "breathtaking" harbour views enjoyed by residents and SH29A motorists were at risk of being interrupted by power cables and "super poles".
They also heard about deep pain felt by some, especially Māori, in the community over how the existing line came to be installed in the 1950s - via underhand tactics by authorities, it was claimed - and the long battle to have them removed.
Maungatapu Marae trustee Taikato Taikato said: "It has taken a lifetime for Transpower to [agree to] move the wires from our club area [Te Ariki Park] only for them to put them in front of our faces again at the marae."
As proposed, the $7 million project would involve removing the tower in Rangataua Bay and lines hanging over Rangataua houses and the park, then rebuilding the line on mostly SH29A road reserve.
The 18 new poles included two opposers have dubbed "super poles" that at 35m and 45m tall will allow the aerial line to cross the harbour in a single span.
Transpower said the realignment was a maintenance-driven project that would overall reduce the adverse impacts of the power infrastructure on the area.
Planning staff from Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council broadly agreed and supported granting consents with conditions.
Many Maungatapu residents disagreed, saying that while those living under the lines would be better off, dozens of other people would face new and significant adverse impacts.
They spoke of cables crossing clear blue skies and poles bisecting vistas of Mauao they had oriented their homes - or paid a premium price - to enjoy.
They said local real estate agents had estimated 10 per cent drops in property values.
Several criticised Transpower's consultation efforts and accused them of being less than forthcoming with the community.
They picked at the evidence presented by Transpower's expert witnesses.
Te Hono St resident Craig Malpas scored a win with an admittance from a key Transpower witness that there were mistakes in visual simulations.
Maungatapu Rd resident Peter McArthur drew on his own experience ploughing submarine cable to cast doubt on Transpower's stated estimate that running the cables under Rangataua Bay could add as much as $20 million to the project cost.
Echoing other opposition submitters, he said Transpower should "go back to the drawing board" and reassess options such as a submarine cable or attaching the cable to a bridge.
What happens next?
- The hearing was adjourned yesterday
- Transpower was given until August 3 to prepare responses to submissions
- Commissioners will close hearing when all information is in
- Their decision is due within 15 working days of hearing close.