Robe Esplanade power to go underground?

Proposal: Robe's Esplanade, where the council wants to look at the option of undergrounding powerlines.
Proposal: Robe's Esplanade, where the council wants to look at the option of undergrounding powerlines.

Robe District Council is keen to pursue the possibility of undergrounding powerlines along the Esplanade.

At the February council meeting this week, the council moved to support the principle of undergrounding the power at the Esplanade, as long as the work meets Powerline Environment Committee guidelines.

The support would also be contingent on adjacent landholders being willing to contribute to the cost, and that council’s contribution would come from funds allocated from the sale of the unmade road Park Terrace.

CEO Roger Sweetman said in a brief report to the meeting that he didn’t believe the project would meet PLEC guidelines, and the council should acknowledge that fact and advise the property owners that they would have to fund the project alone if they wished it to proceed.

He said the benefit of undergrounding the powerlines would be limited to the adjoining landowners, it was not a recognised tourist route, it did not have a high concentration of people and the powerlines didn’t impact on the view of people using the Esplanade.

But mayor Peter Riseley answered each of those points and said he felt the project would be a chance to meet the criteria.

At the start of the meeting, resident John Andre also spoke on the issue and said as a property owner in the area, he knew there was a lot of support for the project. 

He had spoken to PLEC staff on their visit to assess the site and he felt they were very positive about the chances of the project meeting the criteria.

Cr David Loxton also said he believed there was a chance the project would meet the guidelines, and “if we don’t get this through, we've wasted an opportunity”.

He moved a motion that the council contact PLEC about the merits of undergrounding powerlines between, and including, Park Terrace and Newton Road.

He said: “Let’s not write it off tonight. This doesn’t hold us to anything, just due diligence. You can still knock it on the head later.”

The motion won support from councillors, with Cr Lawrence Polomka exclaiming: “Thank God for common sense, some still exists.”

Cr John Enright then moved a further motion: “That council support the principle of undergrounding the power at the Esplanade subject to: (a) All adjacent property owners being prepared to contribute to the costs of the project, and (b) council’s contribution to the project be funds allocated from the sale of the unmade road Park Terrace.”

Cr Loxton initially seconded the motion, but then withdrew his support when he realised the motion included the potential sale of Park Tce: “I don’t want to sell it,” he said later.

Cr Rino Del’Antonio suggested changing the motion to reflect that the council support was also subject to whether the PLEC report said the project was likely to meet its guidelines. Otherwise, he said the council could commit to the project and the sale of the land, and then be told that PLEC guidelines hadn’t been met.

All councillors voted in favour of the motion apart from Cr Loxton.