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Exposed .. Remains of trees cut down at Parsons Rock camping ground in the Waitaki Valley. The trees were felled due to their close proximity to power lines. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Transpower says it has no plans to remove any more trees on its Aviemore-Benmore A transmission line in the Waitaki Valley after several were felled at Parsons Rock camping ground, angering regular campers.

Several trees were recently cut down by contractors employed by lines maintenance company Electrix at the Waitaki District Council-owned camping ground on the shore of Lake Aviemore.

The trees posed a safety risk due to their close proximity to power lines.

Electrix is responsible for the maintenance of power lines in the area, and agreed to fell the trees at the request of the council after an on-site meeting.

The removal of trees caused outrage among those who frequent the camping ground over the summer holiday period, and some have threatened to camp elsewhere in protest.

One of those is Oamaru man Nathan Cunningham, who last week told the Oamaru Mail he had serious concerns about the number of trees that had been felled, the process involved and the impact it would have on the camp’s ambience and exposure to wind.

He said a “lack of thought” had gone into the process, and he feared for the future of the nearby township of Otematata if campers abandoned the camp ground en masse.

Transpower corporate communications manager Rebecca Wilson defended the removal of the trees.

She said Transpower’s Aviemore-Benmore A transmission line ran the length of the camp ground.

It was “not uncommon” for a large number of trees to be removed at one time, “particularly where one tree owner is involved”.

“One of our normal maintenance activities is to effectively manage the trees in the transmission corridor to protect these national infrastructure assets and ensure the safety of the public from events that could occur from vegetation growing too close to the line,” she said in a statement.

“Trees that have the potential to threaten transmission lines are identified through regular scheduled line patrols.

“When these trees near the distances prescribed in the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003, the tree owner is advised and approval sought to remove the vegetation.

“In this case, the Waitaki District Council as the tree owner was advised of the tree issues at Parsons Rock camping ground, and approval was sought and given to remove the trees.”

She sympathised with campers and said a plan was in place to restore the camp’s landscape.

“While we appreciate that some campers may have concerns over the work that has been carried out, the safety of the public using the camping facility is paramount.

“We have agreed with the Waitaki District Council that some 1000 plants will be planted in the camping ground in the near future that in time, will provide the shade, shelter and ambience that has been removed.”