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Tree trim notices - information for covenantors

If trees come into contact with electricity lines they can cause damage to electricity lines and electricity outage, injury, electrocution, and, in dry conditions, even fires. When trees come within a prescribed distance of an electrical conductor, the tree must be trimmed so it no longer constitutes a hazard to the line. If an electricity company becomes aware of a tree that is a hazard it will send the landowner a trim notice.

Who arranges and pays for the trimming?

If a trim notice has been issued, the tree owner must allow the electricity company to cut or trim the tree or arrange for a qualified contractor to do so. Generally, the first trim is at the electricity company's cost. Subsequent trimmings are at the cost of the landowner.

What about trees in covenants?

A different rule applies if the trees subject to the trim notice are within an Open Space covenant because the area is protected. A trim notice cannot be issued to you for this reason.

What should I do if I get a trim notice for trees in my covenant?

Contact the electricity company (a written notice is best) and let them know that: 

  • the trees are protected by a QEII National Trust Open Space covenant and that the trim notice cannot be issued to you for this reason, and 
  • because of the covenant, you must get approval from the National Trust before the works can begin, and 
  • that the works must be carried out by the electricity company at its cost.

How can I organise approval to trim trees that are in my covenant?

You should ask your QEII regional representative for an approval to trim covenanted trees and to detail how they will check that any trimming is carried out to their satisfaction. This must be a written approval, and can be done by letter or email. Once approval has been given you can ask the electricity company to contact you to arrange the trimming. 

Writing to your electricity company

We have a template letter on our website that you can use to write to your electricity company about a trim notice that affects your covenant. Alternatively, give us a call (0800 467 367 - ask to speak with a member of the legal team) and we can send you the template letter.

The template letter can be found at this link TEMPLATE LETTER.

Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003

A number of regulations are set out in the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 that are attached to the Electricity Act 1992. Regulation 8 triggers an exception where an Open Space covenant is concerned. In summary:

  1. An electricity company must not issue a cut or trim notice to a tree owner because the electricity line is on land that has a QEII National Trust Open Space covenant on it.
  2. The tree owner is under no obligation to cut or trim the tree if it is in the covenant.
  3. The electricity company must, at their expense, within 3 months of becoming aware of the encroachment into the growth limit zone, ensure that the tree is cut or trimmed.

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