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Vegetation around powerlines

Given COVID-19 and the impacts on our business and the wider SA community, we are making some changes to our critical Bushfire Vegetation Program to ensure our communities have a safe and reliable electricity supply.

It is critically important we complete our annual Bushfire Vegetation Program prior to the commencement of the 2020/2021 Bushfire Season. This essential work is already underway and will continue right through to the start of the 2020/21 fire season.

SA Power Networks, with the support of the Office of the Technical Regulator, can now issue ‘Emergency Notices’ to property owners regarding impending tree trimming, in lieu of the normal 30 day notice. This change only applies to the Bushfire Program.

This slight change will allow SA Power Networks and our contractor flexibility to expedite the bushfire program to ensure community safety and reliability of supply while managing any resource impacts associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Vegetation must be kept clear of overhead powerlines to ensure community safety, reduce bushfire risk and maintain reliability of supply to our customers.

We are required by legislation to inspect and clear vegetation from around powerlines at regular intervals of no more than three years.

In 2010, the regulations for metropolitan Adelaide were amended to reflect the lower level of risk associated with vegetation around low voltage (LV) powerlines. This allows vegetation to grow through LV powerlines in certain circumstances, which improves the streetscape and visual amenity. This approach has been strongly supported by local councils. Additionally, changes to legislation for 10 towns across SA has been introduced as of 2019. More information around this is within the Reduced pruning around LV powerlines fact sheet.


Why is tree trimming important?

Bushfires can start suddenly, destroying property and putting lives at risk without warning. Trimming trees and branches near powerlines reduces the risk of bushfire, and also helps us to:
 

  • maintain reliability of your power supply
  • protect public safety
  • comply with our legal responsibilities

What we do

In consultation with local councils we make sure vegetation is kept clear of public powerlines. Trees, shrubs and bushes are pruned so they do not bend or grow into the legislated clearance zone. The clearance zone is determined by:
 

  • whether the vegetation is within a bushfire risk area
  • the voltage of the conductor
  • span length
  • whether the powerline is insulated or bare
  • whether the powerlines are on public or private land.

If tree trimming is to take place around powerlines near your home we will provide 30 days’ notice (except when emergency trimming is required) before accessing your property.


What are you responsible for?

You must ensure any planted vegetation near powerlines on your property meet the required clearance zones. Our Managing trees around powerlines poster 504KB PDF explains these zones in more detail. 

We recommend you ask a qualified professional to prune vegetation on your property.


When do we trim trees?

  • Every one to three years based on risk in bushfire risk areas.
  • Every three years in non-bushfire risk areas.

What are the alternatives to tree trimming?

We work with the Arborist Reference Group and Local Government Association (LGA) Working Group to improve how we engage with our stakeholders and manage vegetation near powerlines. Our Protocol for vegetation management near powerlines 13830KB PDF outlines our commitment to improving vegetation management and was developed in consultation with local councils and key stakeholders. The revised protocol (2019-2021) was endorsed by the LGA Board in May 2019.


Selecting appropriate trees

There are limitations when planting trees under or near powerlines. Refer to the Botanic Gardens online plant selector tool or speak with your local nursery representative who can help you choose the safest options for planting near overhead or underground powerlines.

We've developed a powerline friendly list of species by zones, to simplify the selection of tree species suitable for planting under powerlines in the non-bushfire risk cities and towns. There's also a brochure available for which includes more information.


Share your feedback

Complete our online survey to provide feedback on how we manage vegetation around powerlines, or your recent experience on tree trimming. Your feedback will help us to continue to improve this service.

Contact 13 12 61 or email customerrelations@sapowernetworks.com.au for more information about our vegetation management program.