Farmers Rally To Protest Bipole III

Manitoba Hydro is making Bert de Rocquigny what it calls a good offer to run its Bipole III transmission line through his farm. But de Rocquigny says money isn’t the issue.

“I told Hydro, you can’t pay us enough,” said de Rocquigny, who stands to have the controversial line cut through 11 quarter sections on his farm southwest of St. Claude.

“Because once that line is sitting there, we’re married to it. We’re stuck with it for the rest of our lives.”

Other farmers in south-central Manitoba, where the line scheduled for construction in 2012 will run through some of the most productive farmland in the province, express the same feeling.

“They do not want this line interfering with their farming. And that’s the bottom line,” said Blaine Pedersen, the local Conservative MLA.

“It will affect their farming immensely.”

RALLY PLANNED

Pedersen (PC, Carman) was scheduled to host a rally in St. Claude October 1 to protest Bipole III and demand it be rerouted.

Hydro’s decision, at the province’s urging, to run the 1,372-kilometre line down from the north along the west side of Lake Manitoba has drawn objections from opposition politicians, local landowners and farm groups.

Opponents want Bipole III to take a shorter and cheaper route east of Lake Winnipeg.

But the government has nixed that route because it would run through the environmentally sensitive Boreal Forest in eastern Manitoba.

Instead, it has decided on the western route, which takes a 90-degree turn and travels straight through de Rocquigny’s fourth-generation beef and grain farm.

“We’re right in the path,” he said.

Not only will the line disrupt his operation while being built, it will also affect his ability to farm after it’s in place, said Rocquigny.

HINDER MOVEMENT

The construction will hinder the movement of cattle from one pasture to another because the line runs right over grazing land. It will also hamper manure injection because the applicator goes at an angle across fields and the transmission towers are in the way, he said.

Pedersen said farmers have other concerns, such as possible disruption to GPS systems, tingle voltage in dairy barns and interference with aerial spray applicators.

“The spray operators tell us they won’t go within two miles of the line,” Pedersen said.

Hydro says it is offering a generous compensation package to landowners affected by Bipole III.

Glenn Schneider, a Hydro spokesperson, said the Crown corporation will pay up to 35 per cent above market price for a 66-metre right-of-way, plus $5,000 to $23,000 for every tower built on the land (a maximum of three per mile).

COMPENSATION

Hydro is offering another 25 to 65 per cent of value for land disturbance.

Amounts paid will depend on the actual value of the land.de

Rocquigny said Hydro officials have told him

they want to work with farmers and don’t want to expropriate land. But Pedersen said some farmers say they have been threatened with expropriation if they don’t settle.

Schneider acknowledged the line could affect farmers’ GPS systems. But he said it won’t cause voltage problems because farms are on an alternating current (AC) distribution system and the transmission line is direct current (DC).

As for aerial applicators, Schneider said Hydro has thousands of kilometres of transmission lines throughout Manitoba and crop dusters have always adapted to them.

“They haven’t gone out of business.” Schneider said the amount of land actually

lost to production is minimal because it only involves the base of each tower and a small footprint around it. [email protected]

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“It will affect their farming immensely.”

– BLAINE PEDERSEN, MLS

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