Powerline fines now enforceable

(Lochie Blanch/Unsplash)

Energy Safe Victoria [ESV] has received the power to issue fines to Victorian electricity companies and councils which fail to keep trees clear of powerlines, including those in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges.

Contact between trees and powerlines can result in electrocutions, fires and power outages, which can result in serious property damage, network outages and in serious cases injury and even loss of life.

To avoid risk, electricity companies (responsible for powerlines on private land and regional public land) and councils (urban public land) are responsible for maintaining trees within safe distances under the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2020.

As of Friday, July 1, ESV has the power to issue a fine worth 25 penalty units or $4623 for each line clearance breach.

ESV commissioner and chairperson Marnie Williams said the new powers would mean they could reduce the time it takes to prosecute offenders through the courts.

“The safety of the lives of Victorians and their property will always be our highest priority,” she said.

“It will also lead to a stronger deterrant to organisations that are not meeting this important safety requirement.

“While the aesthetic, social and environmental importance of trees will never be overlooked, community safety and the prevention of power outages, fires and in some cases, death by electrocution, is ESV’s highest priority.”

More than 1,100 power outages are caused by trees touching powerlines occur in Victoria each year, affecting 400,000 residences and businesses.

Details: esv.vic.gov.au