ACT News


Ex-teacher risks arrest and being labelled a NIMBY

Show comments

A 69-year-old retired school teacher risked arrest on Wednesday as he staged a sit-in in front of ActewAGL machinery trying to erect a new, taller power pole in his quiet Weston street.

John Anderson, a former deputy principal of Dickson College, said he was hardly a militant but saw red as the new concrete pole started to be put in place across the road from his home of 28 years in Leist Street.

Mr Anderson said he knew he would be written off as a NIMBY but he was incensed by ''bad neighbour'' ActewAGL, which had erected the taller pole without consultation, creating ''visual pollution'' and marring his view across to Cooleman Ridge and the Brindabellas.

''I just thought it was important to take a stand and my initial impulse was, 'Go and do an old-fashioned, 1968-style sit-in','' he said.

Mr Anderson and his wife Jackie, 68, were proposing to tag-team, with Mrs Anderson planning to go down after her husband was arrested and continue the protest. ''You're going to have this phallic symbol as soon as you walk out the door,'' she said of the new pole.

However, Mr Anderson's sit-in lasted only about 20 minutes as ActewAGL staff on-site called police. Two police officers arrived just before 2pm and convinced Mr Anderson that the issue was not worth him getting a criminal record.


''We're not stupid,'' he said. ''I don't need the blood pressure, I don't need the grief, but someone has to take a stand and say, 'What you are doing is unreasonable, uncivil and it's visual pollution'.''

''Even if it makes them stop and consult on this sort of thing,'' Mrs Anderson added.

ActewAGL did send a letter dated April 4 to residents telling them their power supply would be interrupted from 8.30am to 3.30pm. The interruption was ''required for maintenance or upgrades to the electricity network'', the letter read.

There was no mention of a pole being replaced.

ActewAGL general manager network services Robert Atkin said two 9.5-metre-high poles in the street were replaced with two 11-metre-high poles to ''comply with the current regulations regarding the minimum safe distance required between the roof of a house and electricity conductors''.

ActewAGL had ''provided Mr Anderson, and all other land-holders affected by the outage, with the information required under relevant legislation. Prior to undertaking network operations, such as pole replacements or other maintenance of its network, ActewAGL is required to provide the land-holder, on whose land the pole is located or the maintenance is being carried out, with a notice under the Utilities Act,'' Mr Atkin said. The poles were not on Mr Anderson's land.

Mr Anderson said ActewAGL should be more explicit when informing residents so they could seek answers and inquire whether other alternatives - such as underground lines - were possible.

''There was no advice, no consultation about the infrastructure, how high the pole would be, what effect it might have on you or whether it was negotiable. None of the things you'd expect of a good corporate citizen,'' he said.