Safety and trees

Trees and lines

Tree owners are legally required to ensure their tree(s) do not grow too close to power lines.

The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 were introduced by the Government to keep trees at a safe distance from power lines for public safety, and to protect the electricity supply.

Trees close to power lines are dangerous for a number of reasons including:

  • Electricution - touching trimming or climbing a tree that is in contact with power lines puts you at risk.
    - Fire - the electrical current running through power lines can cause fires when the wires rub on trees/branches
    - Power cuts - trees growing beside or over powerlines can cause outages during storms

Your responsibility as a tree owner


The regulations

The regulations outline that tree owners are responsible for having their trees trimmed when they grow too close to the power lines. Electricity network providers are responsible for issuing notices to tree owners when their tree(s) are growing too close to lines.

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 public safety and 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.

Dwnload a full copy of the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 here. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2003/0375/latest/DLM233405.html


Complying with the regulations

Electricity network providers and tree owners must comply with the requirements of the regulations and are both liable for financial penalties if they fail to comply.

Tree owners must comply with a notice to cut or trim a tree in the time stated, to avoid a fine of up to $10,000 and any additional costs if electricity lines or equipment are damaged by a tree.

Centralines is committed to complying with the regulations to keep our network safe. Where tree owners fail to comply with a cut or trim notice we will escalate the matter to Energy Safety.


Dispensation

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 if the tree is inside the growth limit zone and any other safety issues required by the regulations. Once Centralines receives the results of this inspection, we will fully consider the request and a formal response will be sent within four weeks.


Arbitrators

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;

or

b) A dispensation has been granted but the tree owner does not agree with its terms.

Every effort should be made to resolve disputes that don't qualify for tree arbitration that arise between the tree owner and the works owner around the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003.

Disputes which are unable to be resolved can be referred by the owner to http://www.utilitiesdisputes.co.nz/