The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 define the obligations of tree owners and electricity network companies with regard to power lines or equipment near trees or vegetation.

The Regulations:

  • Prescribe safe distances from power lines or equipment trees or vegetation must not penetrate.
  • Set rules about who is responsible for trimming trees and vegetation to maintain the safe distances.
  • Assign liability if the rules are breached; and
  • Provide an arbitration system to resolve disputes between line network companies such as PowerNet and tree owners about the operation of the Regulations.

The Regulations apply to trees and vegetation on private and public land, including local authorities who own trees on public land.
Please note the cost of keeping trees clear of power lines and equipment is the tree owner’s responsibility, except for the first free trim provided for under the Regulations.

The Regulations specify exactly what distances trees, shrubs, plants or any vegetation must be kept from power lines. If trees or vegetation grow within the specified minimum distances (zones), cutting or trimming will be necessary.

The zones are:

  • The ‘Growth Limit Zone’ – that is the minimum clear space around power lines or equipment that must be maintained even in stormy weather; and
  • The ‘Notice Zone’ – the space that extends one metre beyond the ‘Growth Limit Zone’.

The size of the Zone depends on the voltage of the lines and is measured by the distance in any direction from any point on the lines.

The allowable distance from trees to lines is also affected by spans between poles. The following distances apply to power lines with spans between poles up to 150 metres.

For spans greater than 150 metres additional clearances apply.

Tree roots are also included in the Regulations in respect to underground cables and must be no closer than 0.5 metres from underground cables.