The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 give Unison the ability to issue Tree Notices to owners of trees which are encroaching on, or are in danger of encroaching on, power lines.
If, during a survey of your area, our vegetation team notes your trees are encroaching on the Growth Limit Zone, you will be issued with one of two notices, either a ‘First Cut or Trim Notice’ or a ‘Cut or Trim Notice’.
If you’re not home, we’ll leave the forms for you to complete. Sign both copies, keep one, and return the copy to Unison in the prepaid envelope supplied.
Once we receive your signed copy of the notice, we’ll schedule a time with you for our vegetation team to complete the work.
First Cut or Trim Notice
We may cover the cost to perform the first cut or trim on a tree encroaching on our network, if the following conditions apply or are met:
- according to Unison records, the trees have not been subject to a previous cut or trim at our cost,
- the trees do not form a shelterbelt,
- the trees have not been the subject of a previous agreement,
- the tree owner grants access to the site, and
- the trees must be encroaching on a power line owned by Unison.
If all these conditions apply, we will issue you with a First Cut or Trim Notice and perform the work at no charge to you. However, for this to happen, you will need to also fulfil your responsibilities by completing and signing the First Cut or Trim Notice, and returning it to us via post, fax, email, or by dropping it into our head office in Hastings.
If you fail to complete, sign and return the notice according to the conditions laid out in the notice, you risk forfeiting your first cut or trim, and we may charge you for any work required to clear trees from the power lines.
Cut or Trim Notice
If we become aware of a tree encroaching on the Growth Limit Zone on your property, we’ll issue a Cut or Trim Notice to you in writing, as the tree owner.
After you receive a Cut or Trim Notice, you must arrange for the trees to be cut by a Unison-approved person within the time period specified on the notice (usually 45 working days) and the tree must be trimmed to a point that does not encroach on the Notice Zone.
You must also advise us when cutting is to be carried out – the tree owner or Unison-approved person must provide us with at least three working days’ notice of the time and location that cutting or trimming is to take place.
You may instruct the Unison-approved person to trim the trees to a distance of four metres from the power lines. Subsequent trimming may then be carried out by you or a contractor of your choice, provided the trees have not grown back any closer than four metres.
What if I ignore the notice?
You may miss out on a free cut or trim and may be charged for any work needed to clear the trees from the power lines. Under the Regulations Unison must remove any immediate danger posed by trees near power lines where there is a serious hazard to persons or property. You may be liable for the costs of this work if you have been notified of the danger created by the tree or have failed to comply with terms of a notice. Doing nothing does not remove your responsibilities!
If you, as the tree owner, have been given a Cut or Trim Notice and either:
- fail to cut or trim the tree so that it does not encroach the Notice Zone, or
- fail to advise Unison of the time and location of cutting or trimming of the tree,
You may be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and if the offence is a continuing one, a further fine of up to $500 for every day that the offence continues. No proceedings will be undertaken if you have applied for a dispensation from Unison, or there is a dispute with respect to the tree concerned and it has been referred to an arbitrator.
Private Service Lines are not covered by the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003. Property owners are responsible for ensuring that trees do not encroach on their private service lines. Unison will not issue any notices for trees encroaching on private service lines. If you wish to trim trees on your property near a service line, you can request a safety disconnection so you can do so safely (some conditions may apply).
We also have a list of contractors approved to work near power lines. Why not play it safe and use them for triming your private service line too?
Unison Network Electricity Lines
Trees encroaching on Unison Network Electricity Lines are covered by the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003. Tree owners are responsible for keeping their trees away from network electricity lines.