Trees and powerlines growing close together.

Trees and Powerlines: A Dangerous Mix

Trees and powerlines growing close together.

Trees and vegetation growing too close to powerlines and other infrastructure can cause blackouts, start grass fires, property fires, or bushfires, and increase the risk of electrocution.

They can also act as obstructions that restrict access to utility infrastructure. This can hinder essential maintenance leading to further risks.

Take Responsibility

Making sure that trees on your property don’t interfere with overhead infrastructure isn’t just a moral responsibility; it is also your responsibility under the law.

All landowners and occupiers in Australia are required to ensure there are no interferences to utility infrastructure. Even if you engage a draftsperson, builder, architect, or landscaper, you are still ultimately held responsible if they carry out work that is unsafe. Make sure they include these checks in your project.

Overhead infrastructure includes power lines, power poles, overhead cables, and so on. Be aware that you may still have legal obligations regarding building and access requirements even if the relevant infrastructure is located adjacent to your block and not within your property’s boundaries.

Keep Your Distance

There are some essential things to keep in mind when it comes to trees and powerlines:

  • All trees and vegetation need to be at least of 1.5 metres away from power lines – measured from the edge of the tree’s widest point, not the trunk.
  • If trees and vegetation are within 1.5 metres, only authorised and accredited arborists are allowed cut them back from power lines.
  • Do not try and cut trees and vegetation back yourself if they are within 1.5 metres of power lines – not only could you get seriously hurt, but you might be fined as well!
  • While the minimum clearance of trees from power lines is generally 1.5 metres, the required distance increases with higher voltage power lines. If you are unsure about the lines near your property contact your local council or power company.
  • Remember that the clearance rules apply to the area above a tree as well – if you are planting trees stick to smaller species if there are overhead utilities above the area.
  • To keep the costs of re-trimming down, good arborists will trim trees so they are at least 2.5 metres from powerline. This allows for up to three years of regrowth before trimming needs to occur again.
  • In areas where bushfires are common, all minimum distances should be increased by 0.5 metres or more to maintain safety.
  • Tall trees can also pose a risk to power lines and other utilities if they fall in high winds or a storm – when planting such trees they should be further from powerline than their maximum mature height. This will allow them to miss the lines even if they do fall. Tall trees that aren’t far enough away may need to be removed in storm-prone areas.

Keep Your Eyes Out

If you notice trees that are too close to power lines on your property, you should arrange to have them trimmed back as soon as possible. If you see them elsewhere, either notify the property owner or contact your local council or power company to arrange a solution.

We Can Help

Whether you are planting new trees or managing older ones, our team can help. We have years of experience with risk prevention in this area – from the planning and planting stage to tree maintenance and pruning for safety.


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