With over 33,000 kilometres of underground and overground cables, an important part of maintaining our network is the management of trees and other vegetation near power lines.
Our Tree Management Plan defines our approach to managing vegetation near our network in accordance with the Electricity Supply (Safety and Network Management) Regulation 2014.
This plan provides an overview of our responsibilities, tree pruning techniques, defines our policy on tree removal, and provides guidance on planting near network assets.
To implement this plan, we employ the services of trained horticulturalists, arborists and tree trimmers as part of a carefully managed twelve month cycle to continue to deliver customers a safe and reliable electricity supply.
While trimming can look severe at first, trees re-grow at a normal rate. Trimming may avoid the need to remove trees near powerlines entirely.
Vegetation management has the potential to impact on natural and cultural heritage features including aboriginal sites, non-aboriginal historic structures and relics, memorial gardens, parks, and protected or heritage listed trees.
We evaluate potential impacts before undertaking pruning works and in some cases, alternative pruning cycles or technical options may be considered.
While safety is our number one priority, Endeavour Energy understands the value communities place on trees. We aim to strike a balance between safety, protection of the natural environment and keeping the lights on for our customers.
Maintaining safe clearances
Endeavour Energy invests significant resources in maintaining suitable clearances between vegetation and our network to keep our customers, employees and the broader community safe.
Because of the inherent risks of dealing with live electricity, safety must always be the first priority when considering the clearance between trees and overhead powerlines. To keep the community safe and the lights on, a safe distance between vegetation and powerlines needs to be established and maintained.
If branches are within the minimum safety clearance of Endeavour Energy’s network, they are pruned back to the nearest growth point or branch collar to protect the health of the tree and prevent poorly attached regrowth that would create future safety hazards.
Endeavour Energy prunes trees in accordance with the Australian Standard Pruning of Amenity Trees. This Australian Standard provides uniform tree pruning procedures that minimise the risk of developing further hazards such as falling branches, infection and premature tree death.
Under current practices, home owners and occupiers are required to keep trees on their property a safe distance from powerlines all year round.
As part of our routine inspections, we will notify of defects that are found during inspections carried out on powerlines.
This process involves a written notification of the defect to the customer, appropriate follow up correspondence and re-inspection on an audit basis on advice from the customer that the defect has been remedied.
If the defect is not remedied in accordance with the notice, Endeavour Energy has procedures in place that can ultimately lead to your disconnection from our network.
For more information, read our article Vegetation management on private property.
What is a safe distance?
Trees that are in close proximity to Endeavour Energy’s network are pruned according to obligations under the relevant legislation, regulation and environmental planning instruments.
The minimum accepted distance between vegetation and overhead lines - designed to accommodate both safety clearances and regrowth - has been defined by NSW Industry Safety Steering Committee Guideline 3 Guideline for Managing Vegetation near Power Lines.
The minimum trimming clearance is strongly influenced by the voltage of the overhead cables, with higher voltages requiring greater clearances. Other considerations include the type of overhead cable and the distance between the poles or towers (span length).
These are the ‘minimum trimming clearances’ guidelines we work to (in metres):
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An additional 0.5 metres should be added to all clearances in the table above in bushfire prone areas.
How vegetation management helps prevent bushfires
Bushfires pose a risk to lives and property as well as our essential network infrastructure. To manage this risk, we apply best practice asset management strategies to keep people and property safe and maintain the reliable operation of our network.
Endeavour Energy is responsible for maintenance of all the electrical network assets that it owns.
In areas designated by the NSW Rural Fire Service as being fire prone, Endeavour Energy undertakes a pre-summer patrol of all overhead powerlines each year before the start of the official bushfire season.
The purpose of the pre-summer patrol is to identify and repair factors that could lead to powerlines starting a bushfire.
These inspections are looking for a number of issues including:
- trees within minimum safety clearances of powerlines
- the general condition of poles, conductors and associated hardware, and
- whether additional low voltage spreaders are required to be fitted to prevent powerlines from clashing during strong winds
Private powerlines and service lines
Home owners and occupiers in bushfire prone areas are responsible for maintaining a safe distance between their service line and trees on their property.
As part of our pre-summer patrols, we will notify you in writing if vegetation appears to be too close to your service line.
It is very important that you follow the instructions on the written vegetation report and advise us when the necessary works have been completed.
If the defect is not remedied, Endeavour Energy has procedures that can lead to you being disconnected from our network.
High voltage Customers
The maintenance of electrical assets owned by High Voltage Customers is the responsibility of the owner.
We do write to High Voltage Customers annually advising them to undertake inspections of their equipment and repair defects capable of initiating a fire prior to the start of the bushfire danger period.
Our vegetation standards
Our vegetation standards cover the clearances required from vegetation in relation to all network assets such as poles, structures, streetlight lanterns, aerial pilot cables and other electrical apparatus that form part of our network.
Our vegetation management standards and minimum accepted distance between vegetation and overhead lines are based on the NSW Industry Safety Steering Committee Guideline 3 Guideline for Managing Vegetation near Power Lines.
In accordance with the recommendation in ISSC Guideline 3, the safety clearance distances between vegetation and network infrastructure increases by 0.5 metres in designated bushfire prone areas for all bare conductors.