Trees near powerlines

We prioritise the safety and reliability of our network to keep the lights on. Trees are a significant factor in causing power outages, and that’s why we adhere to strict regulations regarding tree management near power lines.

General Tree Enquiry
Keeping trees away from powerlines

The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 set out the obligations of tree owners and Counties Energy and prescribe the minimum safe distances for trees growing near network power lines.

Under the Tree Regulations, tree owners are legally required to keep their trees clear of the Growth Limit Zone around overhead network power lines.

Land owners are legally obliged to keep trees on their property from encroaching on power lines. If Counties Energy becomes aware of a tree encroaching on the Growth Limit Zone, you will be issued one of two notices.

Tree trimming notices

First cut or trim notice 

Counties Energy will issue a cut or trim notice either via post or email to notify a tree owner that a tree is encroaching the Growth Limit Zone and must be cut or trimmed. You must respond to a cut or trim notice as obligated under the Tree Regulations, or face a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted and up to $500 per day/part day the offence continues.

Also, if our lines are damaged because you failed to comply with the Tree Regulations you will be liable for the cost of repairs.

The purpose of a cut or trim notice is to notify a tree owner that a tree is encroaching a growth limit zone and must be cut or trimmed. The cut or trim is free of charge if:

  • Our records show the tree has not received a previous cut or trim at Counties Energy cost

  • The tree owner grants access to the site
  • The tree has not been subject to a prior agreement

The tree owner is responsible and liable for the costs of any future maintenance of the tree to ensure it does not encroach on a notification zone.

Subsequent cut or trim notice 

This will be issued when the tree has previously received a free first cut or trim and the tree is within the growth limit zone of overhead powerlines. Under the Tree Regulations, the tree owner will be charged if Counties Energy is required to cut or trim the tree back to the Notice Zone.

Defining what is too close

Growth Limit Zone
This zone is the space around the power line (measured in metres) where trees must not encroach, even in windy or stormy conditions.

Notice Zone
This zone is one metre beyond the Growth Limit Zone as shown in the diagram below.

Controlled Access Zone
The controlled access zone is defined as four meters from any overhead power line. Only Counties Energy approved arborists may cut or trim a tree which is within four metres of an overhead line.

Declaring no interest

In some situations, you can avoid the expense and responsibility of tree trimming by declaring no interest in a tree near powerlines owned by Counties Energy.

Declaring no interest is governed under sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulation 2003.

To declare no interest in a tree, please submit the form below for your application to be assessed by Counties Energy no later than 10 working days after the date on your Cut or Trim Notice.

If your tree meets the criteria within the regulations, Counties Energy will take over all responsibility for trimming, cutting or removing the tree.

Urgent Tree Trims

Electricity distributors such as Counties Energy have responsibilities for safety and power supply reliability.

  •  If a tree poses an immediate threat to safety or to the reliability of power supply, Counties Energy or its contractors may trim the tree, without asking the tree owner, in accordance with section 14 of the tree regulations.

Fines of up to $10,000 for not responding to notices

Under the Tree Regulations, doing nothing is not an option if you receive a Cut or Trim notice. A tree owner is obligated to action a first cut or trim notice or subsequent cut or trim notices.

If the tree owner fails to act on this notice, under the ‘offences committed by a tree owner’ the tree owner is liable in conviction up to $10,000 and up to $500 per day/part day the offence continues.

Safety first

Trimming or felling trees around power lines is very dangerous and could result in electrocution or serious injury. To trim a tree growing within four metres of a power line, by law, only qualified and approved arborists are permitted to undertake this work.

If all parts of the tree are more than four metres away from overhead lines, you can safely trim the tree yourself or hire an arborist to trim the tree for you.

If any part of the tree is within four metres of the line, or you have received a cut or trim notice from Counties Energy, you must engage the services of an approved arborist who is authorised to work near power lines, ensuring both your safety and the safety of others.

Approved Aborists List
Dispensation and arbitration

Tree owners may apply to Counties Energy for dispensation from cutting or trimming the tree within the Growth Limit Zone. Any application must be made no later than five working days from the receipt date of notice, via letter to Private Bag 4, Pukekohe 2340 or by email at

The tree owner may apply to an arbitrator if dispensation is not granted, or if the tree owner disagrees with the terms of any dispensation. Any application must be made no later than five working days from receipt of notice regarding that dispensation.