Ergon urges green thumbs to plant safely near high voltage

Published: 7 Oct 2021 8:10am

After a couple of electric shock close calls with members of the public in recent times and the gardening season now here, Ergon Energy is urging people not to plant tall trees or bamboo near powerlines.

According to Ergon Area Manager Matt Hilder, tall vegetation near powerlines is one of the primary causes of outages in Queensland and could easily be avoided if people only planted appropriate species in their yards.

“Fast-growing plants like bamboo can quickly shoot up to 20 metres in no time and the wrong species of tree can cause serious safety risks when planted under, or too close to powerlines,” Mr Hilder said.

“Likewise, people may think something like a jacaranda will look great on their footpath but in a few years the tree will be interfering with the area’s power supply and our crews will need to cut it.

“This is why gardeners need to consider a plant’s maximum mature height, then plant it even further than that from power infrastructure to preserve supply and keep everyone safe in the event the vegetation clashes with or comes down on powerlines during severe weather.”

Mr Hilder said if property owners in an area with overhead powerlines wanted to know what trees are safe to plant and won’t touch the network Ergon has a list on their website along with recommended distances to keep plants away.

“We’re not telling people they cannot beautify their yards with plants and trees, we’d just like them to ensure they plant appropriate species that won’t adversely affect the power network potentially causing a safety hazard.

“If people go to the Ergon website and search for ‘safe trees’ they will see an extensive list of tree species that are safe near the power network and how far away they should be placed.”

If people currently have tall trees or bamboo close to the power network Mr Hilder urged them not to try trim them themselves.

“If there’s vegetation growing into powerlines already on their footpath the best thing to do is call us on 13 10 46 and we’ll organise for them to be assessed to prevent future power outages and possible dangers to the community. Our qualified vegetation contractors can then advise what action Ergon or the homeowner needs to take” Mr Hilder said.

“Under no circumstances should anyone get up there themselves and trim trees near powerlines because one simple mistake could turn into a tragedy – so please leave this to the highly trained experts.”

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