The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 (the Regulations) covers the topic of tree trimming near power lines. It aims to protect the country's electricity supply and keep the public safe. MBIE's discussion document proposes options for amending the Regulations to:
- improve the resilience of the electricity network, and
- prepare Aotearoa for a changing climate.
The purpose of the Regulations is to provide clarity on the rights and responsibilities of:
- those who own vegetation, such as trees and plants
- ‘works’ owners, such as electricity line owners or operators, where trees and electricity lines share space.
MBIE has been working with both groups to identify areas where the Regulations can be improved. Their proposals have been considered and added to the list of options set out in the discussion document.
Feedback on this consultation closed on 5 May 2023.
In response to this consultation, we made the following recommendations:
- The tree regulations need to take a long-term focus and help ensure an affordable, resilient and safe electricity supply for consumers.
- Clear information must be available to consumers about their rights and responsibilities under the regulations.
The works owner should take all fair and reasonable steps to keep vegetation owners informed of issues which may affect a safe and reliable electricity supply.
- The works owner should make every reasonable effort to contact the vegetation owner about tree hazards on that vegetation owner’s property.
- If the proposed work is not agreed to by the vegetation owner there should be an opportunity for dispute resolution.
- Where safety and supply are at imminent risk and provided the works owner has evidence to substantiate the hazard, the works owner should be able to access the property and remove the safety hazard.
- The vegetation owner can appeal the action taken by the works owner in respect of imminent risk and receive damages and costs if the works owner acted unreasonably.
- The works owner pays for all costs, including removal of debris, associated with the management of vegetation on and around the consumer’s property.
- Utilities Disputes Ltd (UDL) should provide the dispute resolution service and be named as the arbitration body in the tree regulations. This service would be free to consumers.
- Works owners should provide proactive advice to consumers on appropriate plants which will not put the network at risk.