Trees – FAQ’s

Q1. What should I do if I receive a Hazard Warning Notice?
Your tree(s) have encroached close to the power lines. You should take action now to cut them back or remove the trees. Action taken by you now could save you money later. Contact a competent contractor to undertake the work. Freephone Top Energy on 0800 867 363 for a list of specialist contractors in your area.

Q2. What must I do if I receive a Cut or Trim Notice?
Legally you must take action. You risk a fine if you do not. The notice includes information regarding your options and what you must do. As the tree owner you must ensure the cutting or trimming work specified in The Notice is completed within 10-25 working days (dependent on growth) or within a MAXIMUM 45 working days, if no Hazard Warning Notice was previously given for the tree.

First consider whether you want to have an ongoing liability for maintaining the tree so it does not encroach the Growth Limit Zone. If you wish to keep the tree, then you may be eligible for a first cut or trim without charge from Top Energy, but thereafter you will have the cost of maintaining clearances. If you don’t want to look after the tree and provided the tree meets the criteria for a ‘No Interest Notice’, then you have the option to declare No-Interest. If accepted, Top Energy will decide what to do and take appropriate action. You must allow access.

Decide what you want to do then let Top Energy know your decision by completing the ‘owner agreement tick boxes’ on the Cut or Trim Notice, then sign and return it to Top Energy.

Q3. What happens after I send back the Cut or Trim Notice with my decision?
Once a signed response to the Cut or Trim Notice has been received, Top Energy will respond as follows:
•If you have requested Top Energy to provide a cutting or trimming service we will contact you shortly to arrange a date for the work.
•If you make a ‘No Interest’ declaration which is accepted, Top Energy will assume responsibility for the tree and will then decide what action to take, including trimming, cutting or felling, at no cost to you.

NOTE: If you decide to have your own competent contractor do the work, you must inform Top Energy at least 3 working days prior to any work commencing, details of where and when the work will be conducted. Top

Q4. What happens if I ignore my first Cut or Trim Notice?
Doing nothing does not remove your responsibility under the regulations. Top Energy must remove any immediate danger (to persons, property or the continued power supply) posed by trees or vegetation near power lines and so may have to undertake the work. You will be liable for the costs of this work if you have failed to comply with The Notice.

Q5. Who pays for the cutting or trimming?
Responsibility for the cost of cutting or trimming will depend on the circumstances of each case, but after the first cut or trim at no charge, responsibility will rest with the tree owner.

Q6. What must I do if I’m a shelterbelt owner?
If you regularly cut or trim your shelterbelt, keep doing what you’ve been doing. Otherwise, please contact a Top Energy approved specialist contractor and arrange to keep the shelterbelt trimmed outside the Notice Zone. Freephone 0800 867 363 to find an approved contractor for your area.

Q7. I have received a Risk Advice, what should I do?
You should consider the possibility and potential consequences of the risk that has been identified and then decide an appropriate action plan to eliminate or minimise that risk. Usually this means cutting down the tree before it becomes a big and expensive job, or else adopting a regular maintenance plan such as trimming every year.

Q8. What about my Service Main?
Your Service Main is the power line that connects your property to Top Energy’s lines network. This is either an overhead line or underground cable that runs from a power pole in the street to the meter box at your home or business. THIS POWER LINE IS OWNED BY YOU and is not covered by the regulations. However, you must still keep trees and vegetation clear. If you need to cut or trim vegetation, a Top Energy approved contractor can temporarily disconnect the power for you. To ensure your safety, please use this facility. However, even disconnected lines must be treated as live at all times and you should never come into direct contact with a disconnected line while undertaking any tree work.

Q9. Which trees are suitable for planting under power lines?
Please Freephone our Vegetation Advisors on 0800 867 363 to discuss.

Q10. I have seen some trees touching or close to power lines. What should I do?
Keep clear, do NOT touch trees or poles.  Please advise us of the location where trees are near or touching powerlines using Freephone 0800 867 363 to report the matter to Top Energy’s Vegetation Advisors.  Thank you – we appreciate your assistance!

Q11. Where should I plant my tree?
Wherever practicable, plant your tree a distance from power lines of at least TWICE THE TREE’S EXPECTED MATURE GROWTH HEIGHT. For example, if the tree is expected to grow to a height of 8 metres, plant your tree at least 16 metres away from power lines.

This will ensure you can enjoy the tree without the worry of future safety issues arising and avoid ongoing maintenance costs relating to clearance around power lines. It will also allow your tree to form its natural shape and size.

Some sites will require other considerations be taken into account, such as ground stability, access and contour. For sites where planting decisions are not straightforward, Freephone Top Energy on 0800 867 363 for advice on suitable species and clearance distances.

Q12. Am I responsible for my trees interfering with power lines if they were planted before the power line was built?

  1. If the power line is situated on a neighbour’s property or on public land – YES, you have a responsibility not to let your trees interfere with power lines that are legally sited on your neighbour’s property or on public land.
  2. If the power line is situated on your land – YES, unless there is an agreement in place where the line owner accepts responsibly for the ongoing maintenance of the tree.