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Safety and trees

Safety and trees

Did you know that trees cause around 20% of our unplanned outages? Vegetation, such as trees, vines or plants touching the lines are also a safety risk to you, so ensuring trees on our network are kept clear of power lines is an important part of our job.

We manage trees and vegetation on our network in accordance with the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003, which outline the responsibility of both the electricity distributor (Unison) and tree owner (you) in managing trees near power lines.

Ensure your trees don’t become a problem!

Managing vegetation, such as trees, vines or plants near power lines is an important part of being a vegetation owner. Take some time to learn more about the danger of vegetation near power lines, and what your responsibilities are as an owner.

Our top safety tips:
  • Before planting trees look up and make sure there are no power lines. If there are, make sure you know the maximum height your tree could grow to, and if that height will be within four metres of the lines, choose a different variety, or an alternative planting location.

  • Check your existing trees are at least four metres from any power lines. If they are within four metres, you’ll need to organise a Unison-approved contractor to cut or trim the tree. Contact your local arborist.

  • Before felling a tree, check there is a distance of at least twice the height of the tree between the tree and any nearby power lines. If it is within this distance, you will need to use a Unison-approved contractor, or you could be liable for the cost of any damage to our network if the tree lands on our lines, not to mention the potential safety risk of coming into contact with live power lines!

  • Look up and live! Electricity can travel through trees, so if you put a chainsaw or other piece of equipment through a tree touching a power line, you put yourself in the direct path which electricity could use to travel to the ground. Always look up and around for power lines before cutting or trimming trees.

  • If you spot a tree touching power lines, call us immediately. Public safety could be at risk!


Trees near our network lines

We monitor trees growing close to our network lines and will send you either a First Cut or Trim Notice or a Cut or Trim Notice if your tree is too close.

Keeping trees clear of lines keeps us all safe. That’s why it’s important for you to get your trees trimmed when we ask you to. If you don’t act on a notice within the timeframe given, you can be fined up to $10,000 and a further $500 per day until the work is done. You may also be liable for costs associated with damaged power lines or equipment caused by your tree, so please work with us to keep our network safe.

Trees near your service line

Property owners are responsible for ensuring that trees do not encroach on your private service lines, which will usually be low voltage (400V or 230V). We will not issue any notices for trees encroaching on private service lines.

Working near power lines is dangerous and people cutting trees near live lines are at risk of electrocution or serious injuries. If you wish to trim trees on your property near a service line, you can request a safety disconnection from Unison so you can do so safely (some conditions may apply).


Need your trees cut or trimmed?

If your trees, vines or plants are growing close to or through power lines, you must use a professional arborist, certified by Unison, to cut or trim your trees. Contact your local arborist and they will get in touch with us before working near the lines.

Attempting this work yourself puts you in serious danger of electrocution or serious injury.

Trimming vegetation near power lines is also a danger to your bank balance! The cost of repairing power lines and other equipment damaged by felling trees on to power lines is significant – and could be passed on to you!