Australia — Experts have told the bushfires royal commission that above-ground electrical lines in many parts of the state should be removed to prevent fires being ignited.
Last year’s deadly Kinglake blaze is believed to have been started by faulty powerlines.
And it is believed the counsel assisting the royal commission will recommend that the move be part of the final report to the Brumby Government, due out by July 31.
In a submission to the royal commission in December, electrical engineer Kim Griffiths claimed single-wire earth-return (SWER) powerlines “remain quite a significant risk into the future”.
“Undergrounding effectively solves all of the fire problems, but undergrounding is enormously expensive,” Mr Griffiths said.
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“But that doesn’t mean with current developments there aren’t undergrounding solutions for at least the critical or the highest-risk areas.”
The counsel assisting the royal commission is expected to hand over its recommendations by the end of this month, with the powerline plan a key ingredient.
The move could mean powerlines are ripped up and replaced in the 52 areas identified by the Government as at high risk of fire last year.
It would come at a high cost to taxpayers, but bring piece of mind to people living in bushfire-prone areas.
State Government spokeswoman Jess Harris said putting powerlines underground would be considered among all other recommendations of the royal commission.
“The royal commission is hearing from a range of witnesses with a range of views about measures to reduce the risk and impact of bushfires,” she said.
“The Government established a royal commission with the broadest possible terms of reference and capacity to inquire into every aspect of how and why the fires occurred and we will await its final report.”