Trees, shelterbelts, bamboo and other vegetation that grow too close to power lines can lead to power surges which can damage appliances in your home, power outages, fires and electric shocks.
It is your responsibility to maintain trees that are on your property, so they don’t get too close to the power lines.
If Top Energy becomes aware of your tree encroaching onto power lines, you will be issued a notice to inform you of the situation and what action is required.
You must ensure your trees do not affect the safe and reliable power supply of the Far North community. If in doubt talk to our Vegetation Management team.
You can only trim trees if in doing so, you, the tools and machinery you are using to trim, and any part of the tree is more than 4m from power lines. This includes the lines on your property. Once trees are inside this zone, only a qualified professional can do the work.
If you’re felling a tree within 2 tree lengths from power lines you need to get consent to Work near power lines (Close approach consent) from the line owner. If the lines are in a public space such as along a highway or roadside, the line owner is likely to be Top Energy. If tree felling is commercial, it is notifiable to Worksafe.
If you see trees touching or close to power lines, DO NOT touch the trees or poles. Call Top Energy on 0800 867 363 and tell us where trees are near or touching powerlines.
Growth limit zone
The Growth Limit Zone is the legal minimum distance your trees must be away from power lines. We can tell you the line voltage of your pole if you provide the correct pole number.
*Growth limit zone = the distance from any part of the conductor.
Distances must be maintained under all weather conditions.
If Top Energy identifies your tree is inside the Growth Limit Zone, we will issue a notice to you which outlines your options. You can:
- Contact Top Energy to arrange for the work to be undertaken.
- Apply for No-Interest declaration for the tree. In this case, Top Energy will decide on and take remedial action.
This option is only available if wild-sown or the tree was planted 2004 or later.
Shelterbelts, visual screening hedges or commercially planted crop trees do not qualify for No-Interest.
If you ignore the notice and fail to have your trees cut or trimmed, you will be committing an offence and may be liable on 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. You will also be liable to Top Energy for any costs of damage arising (directly or indirectly).
You can find detailed information in the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003.
Dispensation and arbitration
A tree owner who receives a notice may apply to Top Energy for dispensation for a reduced Growth Limit Zone if you believe that due to the age, rarity, or cultural significance the tree's integrity should be preserved as much as possible.
If Top Energy does not grant a dispensation and you believe dispensation should have been granted, then you may apply for independent arbitration under provisions included in the Regulations.
Safe tree planting distances
To avoid causing hazards with power lines before you plant your tree, think about the height and width your tree will grow to, how quickly it will grow and the distance it is from existing power lines.
Wherever practicable, plant your tree away 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.
Northland Regional Councils Trees for the Land guide has a section which identifies the growth rate and final height of tree species.
For further advice, call Top Energy on 0800 867 363 and ask to speak to our Vegetation Team, or take a look at our FAQs