Power lines 'had a history of clashing', class action case hears

THE class action over the Weerite and Pomborneit Black Saturday fire will continue today with more expert evidence expected to be heard until next week.

Yesterday, Powercor electricity network asset manager Vince Power was cross-examined in the Warrnambool Supreme Court in the third week of evidence.

Mr Power said prior to the February 7, 2009 fire the power lines on the Colac-Camperdown line did not comply with Powercor’s own clearance standards, but did meet Australian standards.

Counsel representing  plaintiff Gerard Dalton said before Black Saturday there was a report by CFA members of power lines clashing near the Weerite overpass. He said a linesman went out and reported the damage as consistent with clashing.

However, Mr Power said the damage could have been from other causes and later said it was an assumption made before further inspection.

Mr Dalton: “Do you accept it is an area of high wind?

Mr Power: “No”.

Mr Dalton: “Do you agree it is an area of high conductor clashing in the past?”

Mr Power: “We have already discussed this today. I’d suggest there is conductor clashing in the history of that line.”

Mr Power was presented with a Powercor log which reported a power outage on the Colac-Camperdown line as a result of clashing.  

Mr Dalton asked if he accepted it as an example of clashing, to which Mr Power replied it was a record of the information at the time of the log’s creation.

The class action is being heard before Justice Jack Forrest. 

Terrence Place is the lead plaintiff in the action. His farm suffered significant damage in the fire, with an estimated claim of more than $350,000 damages.

More than 1000 hectares was burnt by the fire, with 32 claimants being represented by Maddens Lawyers. Powercor has denied the allegations.

The case is expected to run until next Friday.

The power lines which have been the topic of much discussion in court this month.

The power lines which have been the topic of much discussion in court this month.