Tree Owner’s Liability

Under the Regulations, a person commits an offence who, being the tree owner, is given a Cut or Trim Notice in relation to a tree that requires the tree owner to cut or trim the tree and:

  • Fails, without reasonable excuse, to cause the tree to be cut or trimmed
  • Fails to advise Top Energy, without reasonable excuse, of the time and location of the cutting or trimming of the tree by the tree owner or the tree owners appointed contractor.

A person who commits an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and, if the offence is a continuing one, a further fine not exceeding $500 for every day or part of a day during which the offence continued.

If you, as the property owner, are aware of or have received notice of a tree encroaching within the Hazard Notice Zone or the Growth Limit Zone, you must ensure that potential hazards created by trees on your property are managed safely and the trees remain clear of power lines. If your trees cause the power to be interrupted (which may cause damage to other people’s electrical appliances), damage to property or harm to persons, then you may be held accountable for the costs, reparations and injuries to the other parties. As well as the Regulations, other laws such as the common laws of damage and nuisance may apply.

 

Tree Owner Management of Safety and Financial Risk

Trees around power lines present numerous risks which property owners should consider and take action to eliminate or minimise. Property and business owners should consider whether they are adequately insured for the identified risks. In some instances insurers may require the declaration of the risk.

If your trees are part of a workplace, you have a direct responsibility under the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 1992/2002 to maintain a safe working environment. A workplace includes, but is not limited to, forest plantations, farms and horticultural blocks. The felling of large trees close to power lines can be extremely dangerous. Commercial operators should contact Top Energy and agree a safety plan before commencing arborist work or logging operations close to power lines.

Remember also to carefully consider the position of power lines prior to deciding to plant trees, and allow generous distances for future growth.

To help property owners identify risks around power lines Top Energy has developed a Risk Advice (this is not part of the Regulations). The purpose of a Risk Advice is to inform tree owners where our Vegetation Advisors have identified a tree that is outside both the Growth Limit Zone and the Notice Zone but is assessed as a significant risk to power line security or general public safety. Typical examples are risks of trees falling on to lines, trees dropping branches, vegetation material likely to blow onto the power lines and trees planted under power lines. If you receive a Risk Advice we recommend you take action to eliminate or reduce the risk. Immediate action may save you money later on.

We strongly recommend tree owners themselves do NOT attempt tree trimming or cutting work near power lines. Please leave this for the experts who have the training, knowledge, skill, experience, specialist equipment and insurance cover.

 

Top Energy’s authority to remove dangers due to trees

Under the Regulations Top Energy has the authority to undertake without delay any work in relation to a tree (including the roots of the tree) if it becomes aware that there is an immediate danger to persons or property because a tree has come into contact with, damaged or constitutes a serious hazard to power lines. The work will normally be limited to removing the danger. The tree owner will be liable for the direct costs of the work if they have failed to comply with a Cut or Trim Notice.