Hazards from Trees
Electricity Regulations 2003
These Regulations set out the responsibilities of tree owners and lines companies in relation to trees and power lines. Waipa Networks has developed procedures in response to these regulations which are summarised as follows:
- If we become aware of a tree that you are responsible for growing within the Notice Zone we may issue you with a Hazard Warning Notice. This notice will remind you that you must not let the tree grow into the Growth Limit Zone (see diagram inside) .
- If Waipa Networks becomes aware of a tree that you are responsible for growing into the Growth Limit Zone then we will issue you with a Cut or Trim Notice .
- You must have the tree trimmed so that it no longer encroaches the Notice Zone. You can apply for Dispensation if you believe you have a good reason for the tree to be allowed to grow closer to the lines than normal.
- Waipa Networks will trim a tree free of charge the first time (providing it has not already been trimmed by Waipa Networks for free before the Regulations came into effect). After that you are responsible for the costs of any future trimming .
- At any stage you can declare ‘No Interest’ in a tree and Waipa Networks will have to meet the costs of any future trimming, or we may decide to remove the tree altogether.
- Where we become aware of a tree threatening our lines so as to cause a danger to the public or property we have the ability to remove the tree or branch causing the hazard.
You can view the full Regulations online at www.legislation.govt.nz or order a copy through your local book store. If we need to issue you with a Notice regarding one of your trees we will provide you with full details of your rights and responsibilities with the Notice.
What happens if I do not comply with the Tree Regulations?
You will be committing an offence as a tree owner if you have been given a Cut or Trim Notice in relation to a tree and you:
- Fail, without reasonable excuse, to cause the tree to be cut or trimmed in accordance with the Regulations, or
- Fail, without reasonable excuse, to advise Waipa Networks of the time and location of the cutting or trimming of the tree.
If you commit an offence you could be fined up to $10,000 and $500 for every day or part of a day during which the offence has continued.
A Dangerous Combination
Trees growing close to power lines and other electrical conductors pose a serious risk to public safety. They may also cause power cuts or voltage problems for connected consumers.
If a tree comes into contact with a live electrical conductor then the current may travel through the tree and into the ground.
Anyone touching the tree or close to it could suffer a serious electric shock. Those at highest risk are people carrying out tree maintenance, or children playing in or around a tree, both of whom can cause branches to move and come into contact with the lines.
Tree Trimming – the dangers
Before attempting to clear tree foliage in the vicinity of live conductors, you should phone Waipa Networks for advice.
Growth Limit Zone: Any tree growing in the Growth
Limit Zone (see diagram) must only be trimmed by a Waipa Networks authorised person.
Branch Movement: Although the tree foliage may appear
to be at a safe distance from the lines, once you begin the work the tree may move due to pressure placed on branches, random wind gusts, or other external interference.
Tree branches tend to be fairly elastic so you should also be wary of any that may flick up as they are trimmed or as other surrounding branches are cleared.
Wet Weather: Branches tend to hang lower when the
leaves are wet, so if it starts to rain or if the leaves are already wet and start to dry you should expect some movement.
Debris: The path of debris should also be considered
when attempting tree maintenance.
These and other dangers mean we strongly recommend you do not attempt the work yourself.
In the zone:
How far apart should they be?
The Electricity (Hazards From Trees) Regulations 2003 define two zones: a Growth Limit Zone and a Notice Zone (shown in diagram above).
Growth Limit Zone
In relation to Waipa Networks equipment, this is the area within 1.6 metres in any direction of our 11,000V electrical conductors or 0.5 metres for 400/230V electrical conductors. If any of your tree foliage is within this Zone then it must be trimmed to beyond the Notice Zone.
This is the area 1 metre in all directions around the Growth Limit Zone. If we become aware of trees growing in this zone we may issue you with a Hazard Warning Notice to let you know that the tree must not be allowed to grow into the Growth Limit Zone.
What about my Service Main?
A Service Main is the line that connects your property to our Network. This is most commonly in the form of an overhead or underground line that runs from the power pole in the street to your house.
This is not owned by Waipa Networks and as such is not covered by the Regulations. You must still keep trees clear of this line and if you need to carry out a trim Waipa Networks can temporarily disconnect the power for you.
This service is free provided it is no longer than 15 minutes during business hours (a charge applies for 11 kV lines in all cases). If you would like more information about Safety Disconnections please give out office a call.