Media Releases 2011

Concerns about electrical line clearance rules in Yarra

04 April 2011

The destructive reality of new tree pruning regulations could soon be demonstrated as a Fitzroy North couple seek to upgrade their home’s electrical connection.

CitiPower has advised Barkly Street residents Janice Murphy and Tom Hoyle that they won’t allow a proposed power connection because the electrical line is too close to the branches of a plane tree in front of their property.

Ms Murphy and Mr Hoyle are renovating their home and have sought to move its existing power connection as part of an upgrade of the property’s inefficient and decades-old electrical wiring.

Under new Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) pruning rules*, tree branches are now too close to the power line.

CitiPower says the tree needs to be chopped back to meet the ESV regulations before they will move the power connection.

As the attached digitally altered picture seeks to demonstrate, the pruning required would result in the removal of central branches and large sections of foliage.

The pruning would create a wound that eventually causes the tree to become structurally unsound.

Ms Murphy and Mr Hoyle also require Council’s permission to prune the tree.

Council intends to reluctantly allow the tree to be pruned to save the couple from paying thousands of dollars to put the electricity underground.

Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke fears ESV’s one-size-fits-all approach to pruning regulations across the state will threaten hundreds of trees in Yarra.

“Our concern is that trees will be butchered or even removed in the name of preventing bushfires when we don’t have bushfires in the inner-city,” Cr Clarke said.

“Council can refuse to prune trees but that would unfairly force residents to wear the costs of putting their power connection underground.

“We are working with ESV on a plan that could minimise the impacts of these new rules in some Yarra streets.

“But we expect red tape tangles like the one Ms Murphy and Mr Hoyle are caught up in to occur frequently if the regulations continue to be applied in their current form.”

Council estimates that it would need to spend about $1.8 million over a two year period to meet the pruning regulations, resulting in the removal and replacement of about 1000 trees.

A further $210,000 would be spent on additional pruning costs per year based on the current tree load.

*ESV’s 2010 regulations explained:

ESV’s revised 2010 regulations require trees to have a 600mm clearance around insulated wires.

The previous 2005 regulations also required a 600mm clearance but allowed some leeway for structural branches (over 130mm in diameter), permitting them to encroach 300mm into the clearance zone.

The new rules no longer provide that leeway for branches so in practice, Council must remove any branch within the 600mm clearance zone, and with it significant foliage-bearing sections of the tree.

Plane Tree - 105 Barkly Street, North Fitzroy

Plane Tree - 105 Barkly Street North Fitzroy

Plane Tree - 105 Barkly Street, North Fitzroy (image digitally altered to demonstrate appearance after pruning)

Plane Tree After Pruning - 105 Barkly Street North Fitzroy


Further information
Toby Walker
Senior Communications Officer
9205 5120



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