Billions to put powerlines underground: Commission told

  Billions to put powerlines underground: Commission told

10 September 2009

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Australia — The Royal Commission investigating Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires has been told it would cost billions of dollars to put powerlines underground in bushfire prone areas.

As the Royal Commission begins investigating those fires thought to have been started by powerlines, the lawyer representing power company SP AusNet has told the Commission a study done in 1990 found at that time it would have cost $20-billion to put powerlines underground in country areas.

Jonathan Beach QC also told the Commission existing rules governing the operation and maintenance of powerlines had been designed to reduce the risk of bushfires caused by powerlines from a one in 10 year prospect to one in 30 years.

No evidence has yet been heard proving fires were started by powerlines but a class action has been launched against SP AusNet based on that allegation.

Marysville plans unveiled

Meanwhile, residents of the town of Marysville, which was destroyed in the February 7th bushfires, will see what their town will eventually look like when reconstruction designs go on display today.

It is the final round of community consultation before an urban design is adopted next month.

The head of the Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, Christine Nixon says the design aims to open-up the area.

She told ABC Radio’s Jon Faine that the police station will be moved to try to provide more open space.

“A whole range of ways that will just make it more open and but still maintain a feel of a lovely rural community,” she said.

“We again are asking people to tell us what they think and then to try and draw that together very quickly to get a plan for the future so we can really start building a lot of the structures that people have got ready to go,” she said.

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