What any homeowner or tenant needs to know about trees and powerlines

by Chris Lang on January 11, 2012

Trees touching powerlines

The wild weather lately serves as a good reminder about the precautions we need to take to make our homes and yards safe. With winds as high as 100 km/h, trees that are close to powerlines become a real issue.

When trees or branches are touching a live powerline they create a threat to people and may cause an emergency. Power failure or even a bushfire are possible consequences of such contact. Also in hot weather trees dry out and so the danger increases.

Many home owners or tenants think that energy distributors are the ones responsible for trimming trees around powerlines – but this is not 100% correct.

Energy suppliers are responsible for servicing the powerlines and poles on public property, and they carry out regular inspections to reduce the risk of fire ignition or power failure. But keeping a safety clearance between any trees growing on the property you own or rent and the private supply line is your responsibility. A private supply line is the powerline on your property, supplying electricity to your house.

Trimming trees near overhead powerlines is dangerous – which is why there are rules and regulations (such as minimum distance, vertical and horizontal, between you/your tools and the powerline). Since you may not know these rules, it is best to get a professional arborist to carry out the trimming. Or, if you’re a sworn DIY’er, stay at least 3 meters away from the powerline at all times.

To take this one step further, if you intend to plant trees on your property, think about how tall and wide the tree will grow, and whether or not it will touch the overhead powerline – prevention is better than cure.

Have you ever had a problem with power caused by a tree?

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