Media Release: Plant wisely around powerlines this spring

30 September 2019

With spring here and summer just around the corner, keen gardeners across Victoria are being encouraged to plan ahead when planting near powerlines.

Electricity distributor Powercor operates and manages more than 85,000 kilometres of powerlines and over 570,000 power poles across Victoria’s central and western regions.

Powercor’s Head of Vegetation Management Hugh Vickers-Willis explained that specialist teams are responsible for a year-round program to cut trees back from powerlines and ensure they’re a safe distance away.

“Our job is to make sure that trees in our communities don’t pose a safety risk and we trim them back to make sure they stay safe and healthy,” Mr Vickers-Willis said.

“Powerlines and trees, when they are too close together, can cause safety risks such as fires, blackouts and power surges.”

Loose branches and sometimes whole trees falling onto powerlines are one of the major causes of power outages on the network. In high bushfire risk areas, this can also start fires.

The specialist inspection and treatment teams work throughout the year maintaining vegetation near powerlines with cutting distances set by strict regulatory requirements. This year, the teams have inspected more than 506,000 spans of powerlines (between poles) to ensure vegetation is not at risk.

Mr Vickers-Willis encouraged gardeners planting near overhead or underground power cables to understand what species they were planting and how big they would grow. He also urged gardeners to keep Powercor’s planting tips in mind when planning their garden this Spring.

“We know that trees and shrubs are an important part of our communities, so we want to help ensure the right trees and shrubs are planted in the right places”.

“Spring is a great time for new planting and by doing some quick research before heading to the nursery, people can better choose plants that will suit their garden and be safe around powerlines.”

Through understanding what you should and shouldn’t plant near powerlines, the whole community can play a part in keeping plants and shrubs a safe distance from cables.

To plant safely around powerlines, gardeners should think about:

  • Height: Choose plants and shrubs that will grow to less than three and half metres if they are being planted near powerlines. Plant low growing species nearest to, or under power lines and tall growing trees further away.
  • Distance: Make sure plants are placed far enough away from the powerlines so if they do blow over, they won’t hit the wires;
  • Width: Be mindful of the width of the plant – allow at least three metres between the powerline and the widest part of the plant;
  • Roots: Tree roots can damage underground cables and cause power outages. Do not plant trees within two and a half meters of underground cables;
  • Equipment: Do not use metal stakes or gardening tools near underground cables – they can become live and present a risk of electrocution
  • Location: Know where overhead or underground power cables are located. Do not plant trees within two and a half metre underground cables. Contact Dial Before You Dig (www.1100.com.au/1100) to find out where underground assets are located;

For more information, visit the Powercor website for more tips on planting near powerlines and ideas on species that may suit local communities.