14 Oct 2015

RNZ to demolish radio towers

6:54 pm on 14 October 2015

Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is to remove two of its Porirua-based transmission masts after an engineer's report recommended their urgent decommissioning to protect the public.

Titahi Bay Antenna, 220 metres tall.

Radio New Zealand's 220-metre high tower at Titahi Bay, north of Porirua. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

RNZ has three masts - used for AM transmission - on land within the Whitireia Regional Park at Titahi Bay, north of Porirua. The engineer's report, received this week, found corrosion issues with each of the masts, though two were of particular concern - one 53-metres tall and the other 220m.

Chief executive Paul Thompson said the 53m mast was near land used by the Titahi Bay Golf Course and an area around it had been fenced off today, to keep people out of danger, and the mast would be removed within the next month.

This would cause some inconvenience to golfers, but Mr Thompson said the most responsible thing to do was to fence off the area immediately and remove the mast as soon as possible.

He said the engineer's report had advised the 220m mast, the second tallest structure in New Zealand behind the Sky Tower, be removed by March next year.

"We are advised that there is a risk that under adverse conditions the mast may collapse, and it is recommended that the mast be removed within the next six months.

"We believe that in a worst case scenario there could be a risk to transmission buildings, public roads, and both public and private property. Radio New Zealand has decided to act now by decommissioning the structure and removing it in the next few weeks."

Mr Thompson said RNZ was concerned over the potential public health and safety issues that the report raised and as a responsible landowner it was taking immediate action to mitigate any risk.

"It is important that we keep people informed of our plans to carry out work over coming weeks."

He said the golf club, police and the Porirua City Council were briefed this afternoon and a small group of residents in the area were being visited by RNZ staff this evening.

A public meeting was planned to answer further questions this Tuesday, 7pm, at the golf course's clubrooms.

Mr Thompson said the corrosion on the masts had worsened significantly since the last inspection in 2014. The masts were in a hostile environment and were exposed to the sea air and to some of the strongest winds in New Zealand.

RNZ was now working with its engineering team on a more detailed timetable to demolish the masts.

The remaining 137m-tall mast required some work but it would be able to carry the services from the other structures. No disruption to normal broadcast services was expected.