LIVING WITH ELECTRICITY EASEMENTS GUIDELINES

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1 LIVING WITH ELECTRICITY EASEMENTS

2 Ergon Energy maintains one of the largest electrical distribution systems in the world, covering over one million square kilometres of regional Queensland, from the Torres Strait to Queensland's major regional centres and from the coast to the outback - an area over six times the size of Victoria. Operating in one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, we understand the need to keep pace with energy consumption and to plan our network capability to cater for future growth in energy demand. Our ever-expanding electricity supply network currently consists of: distribution and sub transmission lines - approx 150,000km zone substations major substations distribution poles approx 900,000 underground cables approx 2,900km distribution transformers - 80,000 Electricity distribution entities, such as Ergon Energy, need electricity easements so they can maintain and safely operate their powerlines. This information, whilst not a legal document, has been developed to assist the community in answering some commonly asked questions about our easements, and briefly outlines what you can do within Ergon Energy easements with our written permission. What is an Electricity Easement? An electricity easement is the authority held by Ergon Energy to control the use of your land near above-ground and underground powerlines and substations. Ergon Energy holds this authority for your own safety and to allow employees access to power lines at all times. Whilst it will depend on the terms of the particular grant of easement, electrical easements generally give distribution entities, such as Ergon Energy, the right to access, maintain, repair, rebuild and to restrict development within a defined area. Easements also exist for telephone lines, water and sewage mains and natural gas supply lines. The easement, which is registered on the property s title, contains a plan showing the dimensions of the easement and its location on the property together with the rights and restrictions over the easement area. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines or your solicitor will be able to provide this information. Easements may also exist for telephone lines, water and sewage mains and natural gas supply lines. Why are easements necessary? Easements are also created to allow Ergon Energy clear, 24 hour access to the power lines. It is important to keep the easement clear at all times so regular maintenance, line upgrades, damage or technical faults can be attended to immediately to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity. Interference with Ergon Energy s rights and electrical equipment may compromise safety of the public and the occupiers of the property. Therefore, it is essential that Ergon Energy s rights are understood and observed. How do I know if there are easements on my property? Contact your solicitor or The Department of Natural Resources and Mines to obtain a Title Search that shows all registered easements on the property. Check this is the latest Process Zone version before use. Page 2 of 6 Reference CS000501R107 Ver 1

3 Who owns the land the easement is on? The ownership of that land encumbered with the easement remains with the property owner. How does an easement affect what I can do with my property? An easement controls what you can build, what size trees you can plant and what outdoor activities you can carry out in the easement area. An easement affects the use of the property by limiting the development that can be undertaken within the easement area. The exact rights granted to Ergon Energy under an electricity easement will depend on the wording used in the grant of easement. Property owners and occupiers should also be aware that distribution entities, such as Ergon Energy, have the right of access to land to undertake certain works (including reading meters and disconnecting supply). These rights of access may not be registered on the property s title and therefore may not be revealed in a Title Search. Who is responsible for the maintenance of the easement area? You must provide a continuous, unobstructed area along the full length of the easement to allow Ergon Energy access to power lines, transformers, underground cables and other equipment at all times. A width of 4.5 metres is typically required for the safe passage of vehicles and heavy plant. You must NOT place obstructions in the easement within 5 metres of any powerlines, transformer, power pole, equipment or supporting wire. Maintenance of the easement area is generally the responsibility of the property owner and/or occupier, however, complying with regulatory and safety requirements associated with Ergon Energy s electrical assets within the easement area is the responsibility of Ergon Energy. What type of maintenance work does ERGON ENERGY undertake on easements? To enable Ergon Energy to construct, maintain, repair and rebuild powerlines on some properties, access roads and tracks are required on or adjacent to the easement area. As required, Ergon Energy is able to construct access tracks, retain the right of use of these tracks and maintain them to a suitable level to permit access for its vehicles. Where gates are installed within the easement area, an Ergon Energy lock may be required to enable continual access along the easement corridor. In addition, periodic vegetation management works are also undertaken by Ergon Energy to ensure that a specified minimum clearance between vegetation and the powerlines is maintained. Where possible, property owners will be contacted prior to easement maintenance and vegetation works commencing. Safety First Safety is Ergon Energy s number one priority. Whenever you are undertaking any activity on an easement, remember to look up and live to ensure your personal safety and the safety of others around you. Overhead powerlines have the potential to cause a fatal accident. Your safety is in danger if you or the equipment you re carrying or operating comes too close to the conductors (wires). Check this is the latest Process Zone version before use. Page 3 of 6 Reference CS000501R107 Ver 1

4 You do not need to make contact with the wires for a flashover to occur. Please refer to the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002, which is available on the State Government website at for appropriate separation distances. When considering any proposed activity on a transmission line easement, Ergon Energy cannot compromise on: 1. Safety to the public or to Ergon Energy employees and contractors; 2. Risk of damage to property; 3. The safe operation of the overhead distribution lines, underground cable or other assets; 4. Access to the line or associated infrastructure for any future works, including maintenance, upgrading or renewal. The width of the easement also allows for horizontal movement of the conductors. Because distribution lines line conductors can move vertically under changing load and temperature, and horizontally due to cross winds, it is important to take wire movement into account when planning any activities on a distribution line easement. The Electrical Safety Act 2002 specifies safe working distances from low and high voltage wires and sets out clearances for various activities in the Code of Practice for Working near Exposed Live Parts. Anyone planning to build, excavate, or conduct work activities of any kind on, or close to an easement, should obtain a copy of this code, which is available on the State Government website at What about Electric and Magnetic Fields? Ergon Energy operates its powerlines within the current guidelines set by the National Health and Medical Research Council for exposure to 50/60 hertz electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Ergon Energy is mindful of some community concern about such fields and health and you may contact us on Monday to Friday 7.00am to 6.30pm. Alternatively, further information can be sourced from the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) brochure - "Electric and Magnetic Fields: What We Know", August elds/esaa_leaflet.pdf and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) brochure - "Electricity and Health", July elds/arpansa%20leaflet.pdf When to contact ERGON ENERGY? If you are planning to carry out any development, whether or not it requires approval from your local council, it is essential to check with Ergon Energy to see if the electricity easement will be affected. This is particularly important if any structure, crane, scaffold, or other plant is likely to approach a power line. It is extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening to allow anything to come in close proximity to the conductors of a power line. Before any work commences, written approval is required from Ergon Energy. Check this is the latest Process Zone version before use. Page 4 of 6 Reference CS000501R107 Ver 1

5 Note: Do not assume that your local council approval is sufficient approval for you to proceed with your work. If you have any doubts about the activity you are proposing, contact the relevant Ergon Energy regional office or phone before proceeding. Although it is preferred that the easement area is free of development, the following examples provide property owners and occupiers with an indication of what type of development is acceptable and what is not. The list of examples on the next page is not exhaustive and you should always contact Ergon Energy in writing to seek clarification and/or written approval. ERGON ENERGY IS COMMITTED TO MAINTAINING A CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL PROPERTY OWNERS LIVING WITH ELECTRICITY EASEMENTS This guideline is not an exhaustive list of all safety matters that need to be considered. Whilst care is taken in the preparation of this material, Ergon Energy does not guarantee the accuracy and completeness of the information. To the extent permitted by law, Ergon Energy will not be responsible for any loss, damage or costs incurred as a result of any errors, omissions or misrepresentations in relation to the material in this document or for any possible actions ensuing from information contained in the document. Check this is the latest Process Zone version before use. Page 5 of 6 Reference CS000501R107 Ver 1

6 What is PERMITTED on Ergon Energy easements Erection of fences to a maximum height of 2.4 metres is generally acceptable, provided they do not affect access to, and work on, the power poles, powerlines and/or cables. You can plant trees, shrubs and plants clear of vehicle access. Note: Maximum Growth Height of 3 Metres You can erect clothes hoists and barbecues, clear of the vehicle access way. Note: Maximum Height 2.5 Metres. Metal parts MUST be earthed. Installation of underground utility services, such as low voltage electricity, gas, telephone and water, is generally acceptable, subject to clearances from power poles, supporting structures, location and length of service. Excavating, filling and altering of land may be acceptable but full details need to be provided to Ergon Energy for assessment. What is NOT PERMITTED on Ergon Energy easements YOU MUST NOT build houses, sheds, garages or other large structures. Building of roofed/ unroofed verandah's, swimming pools and pergolas are generally not acceptable. YOU MUST NOT fly kites or model aircraft. within the easement. YOU MUST NOT drive fence posts or stakes in easements where there is underground cabling. YOU MUST NOT store liquids such as petrol, diesel fuel, or any flammable material that will burn. YOU MUST NOT install lighting poles. YOU MUST NOT stockpile soil or garbage within the easement Vehicles, mobile plant and equipment within the easement area need to maintain a clearance of 4.5 metres to overhead power lines. You can carry out normal farming, grazing and other agricultural activities. Take care when ploughing or operating mobile machinery near Ergon Energy s equipment. YOU MUST NOT plant trees in large quantities that could create a fire hazard or that grow in excess of the approved MAXIMUM HEIGHT OF 3 MTERES. YOU MUST NOT store or use explosives Parking of vehicles is normally allowed. You can park cars and trucks. Note: Maximum Load and Aerial Height of 4 Metres. Barriers of an approved design may be required to protect poles from damage by vehicles. Heavy vehicle crossings may need a protective concrete cover to ensure underground cables are not damaged YOU MUST NOT reside in or occupy any caravan or mobile home within the easement. YOU MUST NOT place obstructions within 5 metres of any power pole, equipment or supporting wire. Check this is the latest Process Zone version before use. Page 6 of 6 Reference CS000501R107 Ver 1

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