SA Power Networks tree trimming regulation review
The Electricity (Principles of Vegetation Clearance) Regulations 2010 is the key legislation governing tree trimming near powerlines in South Australia.
The current regulations expire in September 2021 and SA Power Networks has been working closely with local government and key stakeholders to understand issues and identify ways to improve how we trim trees around powerlines.
‘Up to 40 per cent of power outages can be attributed to interaction between trees and powerlines which can play a significant role in the potential for fire starts in bushfire prone areas,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We are embarking on extensive consultation in 2018 and 2019 with councils, government agencies and our industry groups to ensure the amendments we put forward to the Technical Regulator improve how we manage vegetation whilst meeting our legislative obligations,’ an SA Power Networks spokesperson said.
Vegetation and trees form a fundamental part of our urban and rural landscape and provide a wide range of aesthetic and environmental value and benefits on both private and public land. However, there are risks associated with trees close to powerlines. SA Power Networks trims trees to maintain the safety and reliability of the electricity network.
Tree clearance regulations were first introduced in the late 1980s after the Ash Wednesday bushfire. The priority was to reduce bushfire risk, but no provisions were included in the regulations for the visual amenity of the trees.
‘Tree trimming requirements were based solely on clearance distances to powerlines which has left some trees structurally unbalanced and unsightly,’ an SA Power Networks spokesperson said. ‘There is now a willingness to put to the Regulator amendments to consider the health and appearance of trees.’
South Australia is currently the only state without regulation provisions for removing trees directly under powerlines. ‘Our customer engagement has shown that the South Australian community is placing increasing importance on managing safety from bushfires,’ an SA Power Networks spokesperson said. ‘There is also growing support from Councils and the community to remove trees rather than excessive and ongoing cutting.’
Other ideas being considered are using SMS and social media in addition to letters to alert customers to scheduled tree trimming in their street, and reviewing bushfire boundaries to improve bushfire safety.
The cost of tree trimming across the state is recovered from customers through their electricity bills.
For further information, please call SA Power Networks Media on 0403 582 500.