Trees near power lines?

  • Did you know that as a property owner, you have a duty of care (and are legally required) to ensure that any trees or vegetation within your property boundary are clear of any network power lines?

  • Did you know that if your trees or vegetation come into contact with network power lines and cause any damage, you may be liable for any costs incurred, but can also be fined up to $10,000?

The power providers (e.g. Vector) have guidelines for safe distances that trees and vegetation can be in relation to power lines. The distance depends on the voltage of the power lines and includes any part of the tree or vegetation (i.e. if one branch is within this distance, the guidelines apply).

If your tree/vegetation is within the growth limit zone, you will be required to engage with an approved contractor.

Vector growth limit zone guidelines
Vector growth zone guidelines

The main network lines cannot be disconnected for tree work so it is extremely important that you engage an approved contractor to complete any necessary tree work within the guideline distances.  DO NOT attempt to clear any broken branches or fallen trees yourself.

This is extremely dangerous as electricity can jump.

Notice to Cut or Trim

A power provider can issue you a Notice to Cut or Trim if your tree/vegetation is within the guideline growth limits.  They will give you a timeframe in which to have this work completed. If you fail to complete this work, you may be fined up to $10,000 and be held liable for costs to lines or equipment (you can imagine this would add up fairly quickly).

First FREE cut

If your property is eligible, you may be entitled to a ‘first free cut’.  This means the work is completed by an approved contractor but you don’t pay!  It is always wise to speak with the company who sent you a Notice to Cut or Trim and request a ‘first free cut’.  They may ask you if you have any interest in the tree/vegetation.  If you do (and you’re eligible for a first free cut), they will prune the tree/vegetation the first time but you will be responsible for the upkeep going forward.

Handy hint: if you are responsible for the upkeep going forward, ensure the approved contractor reduces the height of the trees/vegetation to under the guideline growth limits – this is so an unapproved but professional arborist (like us) can do the work going forward.  This will save you money (approved contractors have to have ongoing specialised training for working around the power lines and invest huge money in insulated equipment – that cost is obviously charged onto the consumer).

Declaring NO interest

If you declare ‘no interest’ in the trees/vegetation, the power company takes responsibility for it meaning they maintain the trees/vegetation going forward.  This may mean that the tree is removed completely, or heavily pruned to reduce the need for a revisit in the near future.

You must meet the following criteria to declare no interest

  • The tree was naturally sown; or
  • At the time of planting, the property owner (current or previous) reasonably believed that the tree, when fully grown, would not interfere with any power lines or electricity conductor.

You must also notify the power provider in writing within 10 business days.

Pruning trees near power lines is a very risky undertaking and all risks must be eliminated as much as possible to ensure the safety of you and people around you. Please don’t put yourself or anyone else around you in danger and engage an approved contractor to complete the work required. Your life may depend on it.

Handy hint: When planting trees, take note of what’s around and avoid planting: near or under power lines (including service lines into your dwellings); near underground services; close to concrete paths and footpaths, driveways, roads or concrete/brick house foundations – tree roots like a stable environment. Concrete keeps it’s temperature standard and this is a good root growing/expanding home; near dwellings – trunks and roots grow and expand and these can cause damage and cost; near boundary lines (species/size specific); large species in a small environment – be aware of the mature size of the tree and plant appropriately spaced from other trees or structures (don’t forget about fences).

If you are in need of assistance with what to plant and where, feel free to contact us.

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