Review of tree regulations announced

News | 20 Aug 2015
Trees falling on power lines create risks to people and property, and lead to higher power
prices for consumers, says Graeme Peters, chief executive of the Electricity Networks
Association (ENA).

“These risks and costs could be reduced if industry had a greater ability to manage trees before they fall on lines, but the current rules aren’t working effectively,” Mr Peters said.

 

The government’s said today that it would review the effectiveness of the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations.

 

The 2003 regulations are rules and responsibilities for managing trees close to power lines and related equipment.

 

They are meant to protect people from harm, and maintain security of supply to consumers.

 

“The electricity network companies, which collectively have 150,000 kilometres of lines transmitting power into New Zealand homes, communities, and businesses, are pleased at the review, which can’t come soon enough.”

 

“Trees growing too close to power lines increase the risk of people being electrocuted by live lines brought down by trees. They also increase risks to workers trying to restore power after storms, cause forest fires, interrupt power supplies, and increase maintenance costs for lines companies, meaning higher power prices.”

 

Mr Peters said the current regulations fail to deal with trees at the planning and planting stages. They merely set narrow ‘growth limit’ zones and do not deal with the risks of trees actually falling on lines during storms.

 

Nearly all the major power cuts we have around the country happen this way. Some tree owners can leave their fellow consumers without electricity for days.”

 

“The rules are also too general, applying a one-size-fits-all solution regardless of whether it’s a single tree in an urban garden or a commercial forest. Again, this isn’t working.

 

“The sheer volume of trees that can fall, especially in rural areas, the costs of dealing with trees, and the risks and consequences, require an improved approach to managing trees near lines. A review of the effectiveness of the current regulations is a good start, particularly as the number of storm events and dry periods seems to be increasing.

 

“Lines companies are looking forward to working positively with the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, and important partners such as forest owners and farmers, to improve the tree regulations,” Mr Peters said.

 

The review of the effectiveness of the tree regulations was included in The Thirty Year National Infrastructure Plan, announced today at www.infrastructure.govt.nz