UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Agriculture and energy transmission facilities Goldstein, Michael Jacob


This thesis is concerned with direct interactions between energy transmission facilities and agricultural operations. The objective of this study is to determine to what extent government regulation is advisable where energy transmission facilities occupy agricultural land. The area of electrical transmission line and pipeline rights-of-way within the Agricultural Land Reserve of British Columbia was found to be approximately 174 km² or about 0.37% of the Reserve. Impacts to farmers were found to vary with the type of agricultural practices and the type of energy transmission facility. On intensively farmed land, electrical transmission lines could increase the cost of irrigation by as much as $1,000 per year, per kilometre of line. Land loss due to transmission line towers was found to reach 345 m² per kilometre of transmission line. A wide variety of other impacts were also found. In grazing areas, impacts to agriculture were generally positive. The clearing of electrical transmission lines could increase grazing capacities by 10.4 animal unit months per year per kilometre of right-of-way. Pipelines were found to have less impacts on agriculture than electrical lines. The most serious impact was yield loss along trenchlines on fine textured soils. The maximum value of such losses was $500 per kilometre of pipeline. The cost of energy transmission facilities avoiding farmland was found to vary greatly with terrain and location. In many situations this cost can exceed $100,000 per kilometre of right-of-way, which is significantly higher than the value of any impact they can have on agtriculture. Federal and Provincial regulation of energy transmission facilities requires the compensation of affected persons and the reduction of negative impacts. Deficiencies in both processes were found. New Federal Legislation will increase the protection of affected persons, but unclear jurisdiction and problems of accurately assessing impacts will persist. Provincial regulation is more discretionary but has been well implemented in some cases. The conclusion reached by the author is that transmission operators can and should bear the cost of all impacts on agriculture, and that the only way of consistently relieving this cost over the long term is to require compensation in kind.

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