Spotted trees growing into power lines?
Tree owners are legally required to ensure their tree(s) do not grow too close to electricity network lines.
The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 were introduced by the Government to keep trees at a safe distance from electricity lines for public safety and to protect the electricity supply.
Trees close to power lines are dangerous. Falling branches can bring down lines, causing fire and the risk of electrocution. Children could suffer tragic electric shocks when climbing trees close to lines. During high winds, trees can also damage power lines and equipment resulting in power failures and electricity surges which can cause damage to appliances, fire and danger to the public.
The regulations set out the rules which make tree owners responsible for having their trees trimmed when they grow too close to the electricity network lines. Electricity network companies - like Centralines - are responsible for issuing notices to tree owners when their tree(s) are found growing too close to lines.
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The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 apply to:
- Electricity network lines. They do not cover service lines (lines that run from the network in the street to a house or building).
- ALL trees - whether on private or public land - which are growing into network lines, unless they are covered by a previous agreement.
The regulations are designed to protect the safety of the public and the security of the electricity supply by:
- Specifying safe distances (growth zones) from network lines within which trees must not encroach
- Setting rules about who has responsibility for cutting or trimming trees that encroach on electricity network lines
- Assigning liability if those rules are breached; providing an arbitration system to resolve disputes between electricity network lines owners and tree owners about the operation of these regulations.
The regulations are administered by Energy Safety, a government agency of the Ministry of Economic Development. You can download a full copy of the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 from the Energy Safety website.
Complying with the regulations
Electricity network companies and tree owners must comply with the requirements of the regulations and are both liable for financial penalties if they fail to comply.
A notice to cut or trim a tree cannot be ignored.
Tree owners must comply with the notice in the time stated or they could be fined up to $10,000 and could also be liable for costs if electricity lines or equipment are damaged by a tree. Centralines is committed to complying with the regulations and to keeping our network safe. Where tree owners fail to comply with a cut or trim notice we will escalate the matter to Energy Safety.
Tree owners are entitled to request dispensation from a notice to cut or trim a tree. However, under the regulations, trees must be kept clear of the growth limit zone. When a tree owner requests dispensation, Centralines will arrange for a professional arborist to check whether or not the tree is inside the growth limit zone and to consider the other safety issues required by the regulations. Once we receive the results of this inspection, Centralines will fully consider the request and a formal response will be sent within four weeks.
The Minister of Economic Development is responsible for appointing arbitrators to hear and determine disputes between tree owners and network owners. The regulations allow a tree owner to contact an arbitrator in the case of a dispute if:
a) The network owner has refused to grant a dispensation which the tree owner believes should have been granted;
b) A dispensation has been granted but the tree owner does not agree with its terms.
More information and contact details for the arbitrators are provided on the Energy Safety website. Any other disputes should be taken to Energy Safety.