Robe residents pay for Esplanade power lines to be buried underground

Residents along Robe’s Esplanade will have uninterrupted views of the coastline, thanks to a $40,000 donation and a dozen ratepayers paying an additional $12,000.

The small coastal town on the Limestone Coast, which is a tourist hotspot in summer, is set to move overhead power lines underground. 

Robe District Council has set up a separate rate to fund the project. 

The 11 ratepayers with properties in front of the soon-to-be undergrounded power lines — from 30 Esplanade to Newton Road — will pay an additional $2,325.50 each year for five years.

Two-thirds of the $470,000 project will be funded through the state government-run Power Line Economic Committee.

Three residents donated $40,000 and the council will cover the remaining $113,000 through the new rate.

Chief executive James Holyman said the council received “very little feedback” about the new rate during the consultation period in June.

Sunny beach landscape with people in distance and coastal grass in the foreground
Houses on the Esplanade overlook Long Beach. (ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

“Some of the ratepayers have said to me, they started [talking about this] 20 to 40 years ago,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic outcome for the households because they’ll be looking at pristine coastline, not through power lines.”

Mr Holyman said the project cost was previously hard to justify.

“We could see the value in it, but it was — in comparison to the other priorities — very low on the list,” he said.

A man in a cardigan stands smiling at the camera with bush behind him
James Holyman says beachfront residents are happy to contribute.(ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside)

“I had a conversation with the ratepayers and said, ‘if you’re prepared to contribute, we could accelerate that as a priority’.

“[The ratepayers are] very excited because they couldn’t foresee it happening, and it’s now going to be done this financial year.”

Robe ticks tourism box

Power Line Economic Committee chair Kim Steinle said her organisation assessed project applications based on their benefits to the community.

“We will look at projects which have a commercial element, or they might have a tourism element, or they may have a heritage focus,” he said.

“Those tend to get a higher priority because it’s a clear advantage to the community.”

A small sign reading 'Long Beach' with a road and houses stretching behind.
Buurying the power lines will give residents uninterrupted views of Robe’s Long Beach. (ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside)

Mr Steinle said the Robe project had an “attractive tourism focus”.

“The project size was convenient, it fitted with some of the other projects in that year,” he said.

“It meets the criteria in terms of it links up several tourism areas for cycling and pedestrians.”

Mr Steinle said it could be a tricky process to move the power lines underground.

“We do draw on the experience of our team of engineers who design these things,” he said.

“In this instance, we’ve got three light poles and then nine pits.”

Mr Steinle said the project was due to be completed by March next year.

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