Safety Distances


Non compliant structureExample of unsafe and non-compliant structure

Electricity must always be treated as being potentially dangerous, especially when undertaking any construction work near power lines, such as building or extending a building.

Remember, you don’t have to touch the lines for fatal results. Electricity can arc or jump across a considerable gap.

Top Energy advises planners, architects, builders and Local Authorities, as well as property owners and developers, to include overhead electric lines (power lines) and overhead line supports in their considerations when planning any construction.

To protect people and equipment, minimum safe clearance distances have been established to cover the construction of buildings and other structures near overhead lines (refer to the table below for the legal clearances). These are legal requirements and they are there to protect lives and property. Overlooking or ignoring these requirements could result in building delays, increased costs or may even cost you your life!

Your responsibility
As a landowner, you are responsible for ensuring that all buildings or structures on your property are built outside minimum safe distances from the existing overhead lines. Structures can be new and/or existing, such as garages, new houses and extensions. They can also be decks, awnings, flag poles or building signs. Scaffolding is also considered to be a structure. In designing the building, you should allow for the width of any scaffold you may need to erect. This is to ensure that the scaffold is positioned so that legal clearance distances are still met.

As a building owner you are required to make sure that your architects, builders, landscapers and developers provide safe clearance distances and access to Top Energy’s assets, under New Zealand Code of Practice New Zealand Code of Practice 34 – Safety Distances (NZECP 34:2001). The restrictions on building clearances near power lines are additional to Far North District Council approval requirements – so don’t start building until you have checked that all clearance requirements have been met. Failure to do so may result in the removal or relocation of your structure, or the relocation of the electricity assets, but this would be at your expense. If a building is still in the construction stage this can result in a stop work notice being issued, halting the construction of the building.

Before you build near power lines Top Energy can help
Seek advice from a Top Energy Planning Engineer when you are planning on building or placing any structure near power lines. These include Top Energy owned power lines and privately owned power lines.

Our Planning Engineer will assess the proximity of the proposed building or structure in relation to the overhead power lines and their operating voltage. The findings will be reviewed against the New Zealand Code of Practice New Zealand Code of Practice 34 – Safety Distances (NZECP 34:2001) and you will be advised accordingly. The minimum safe distances differ depending on the voltage of the overhead lines (refer the table below).

If the proposed building/structure is outside the minimum safety distance of the conductor, as set out in the table below, you are safe to proceed.

If the proposed building/structure falls within the minimum distance safety distance of the power line as set out in the table below, a further engineering study will need to be undertaken to determine whether other mitigating factors within NZECP 34:2001 allow for the building to proceed. This should be undertaken by a professional Consulting Electrical Engineer who will submit their findings to Top Energy. Alternatively it can be carried out by a Top Energy Planning Engineer. If undertaken by a Top Energy Planning Engineer there will be a charge for this service, which will be advised to you when you request the service.

Based on the outcome of the engineering study, Top Energy will advise whether:

  1. The proposed building/structure complies with NZECP34.2001 and construction can proceed without restriction, or
  2. Temporary arrangements during building construction need to be made, with the prior written agreement of Top Energy, to restrain conductor movement or to provide suitable insulation that will allow closer approach to the conductors, but only during construction. As part of the written agreement, Top Energy may prescribe reasonable conditions for these temporary arrangements; or
  3. The proposed building/structure does not comply with requirements and therefore construction is prohibited (and if construction has commenced, must cease immediately).

The table below sets out the safe working distances from overhead power lines (conductors), under normal conditions and without specific engineering advice, for conductor spans up to 375m, and includes supporting structures at equal elevation.

Safety Distances-1



To contact a Top Energy Planning Engineer, either

  1. Phone 0800 TOP ENERGY (0800 867 363) and ask to speak to a Planning Engineer about erecting a structure near overhead power lines, or
  2. Email