Power and Water began its revised Alice Springs vegetation maintenance program in late September 2020. The revised program of ongoing maintenance works consists of:
- tree trimming
- tree replacement.
The vegetation maintenance program aims to safeguard residents and workers, and power reliability and infrastructure.
Tree trimming works take place every two years in urban areas and every four years in rural areas.
Mid-cycle trimming may be needed for some trees that have been identified as culturally significant or sacred and may not be removed. This will be carried out in conjunction with our tree replacement works.
We work with key organisations such as the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) and others to ensure culturally significant and sacred trees are identified. These trees will still be trimmed if required.
We will advise residents that trimming will be taking place about two weeks before works commence.
We have contracted Infrastructure Vegetation Management Services (IVMS) Australia Pty Ltd to undertake the vegetation maintenance program. They are a Northern Territory owned and operated company, registered with Supply Nation as an Indigenous company.
Vegetation presents significant safety and power reliability risks to the power network servicing Alice Springs and the surrounding area.
We maintain our power infrastructure year-round to ensure the power stays on and our community stays safe. A significant part of our maintenance works is managing vegetation.
Power and Water services around 15 000 homes via 6800 poles and towers across more than 1000km of overhead powerlines in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and surrounding areas.
About vegetation maintenance
Safety is Power and Water’s top priority. Vegetation close to power lines and power infrastructure presents significant safety and power reliability risks to the power network.
Vegetation contacting with or falling onto powerlines and other power infrastructure can:
- bring live powerlines down causing major safety risks for the community and our workers
- damage electrical equipment
- cause lengthy power interruptions
- require costly repairs.
Vegetation maintenance involves a qualified arborist assessing each tree before any trimming occurs.
The arborist recommends the amount of trimming required to meet the necessary clearance distances, cycle frequency, growth rate of the individual plant and local environmental conditions.
We also work with key organisations such as the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) and others to ensure sacred and culturally significant trees are identified. These trees may not be removed, but will be trimmed if required.
In Alice Springs our vegetation maintenance program takes place every two years in the urban area and every four years in the rural area.
Vegetation management zones guide how often each tree will be trimmed. These zones have been established based on land use, vegetation and climate factors, nature strip widths and historical trimming. See the zones map and frequency table below.
If the tree on your verge has been identified as unsuitable to grow near powerlines or is a culturally significant or sacred tree that may not be removed we will also carry out mid-cycle trimming as needed to keep a safe distance from powerlines.
Clearance standards have been set to trim trees and vegetation as little as possible. It also aims to balance the risks vegetation causes to the power network while maintaining greenery, shade, cooling and privacy, where possible.
However, this minimum requirement needs to be maintained for the full two year trimming cycle in urban areas and four year trimming cycle in rural areas. This means the regrowth of each tree over the cycle must be considered when working out how much to trim. See the clearance zone diagram below.
Powerline clearance is determined by voltage, conductor type and the distance between poles.
We have engaged Infrastructure Vegetation Management Services Australia Pty Ltd (IVMS) to undertake the vegetation maintenance program.
They are a Northern Territory owned and operated company, registered with Supply Nation as an Indigenous company.
Trimming or removal of trees near powerlines is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by untrained or unauthorised persons.
IVMS Australia employs qualified arborists and workers who have completed authorisation training.
About two weeks before any tree trimming takes place, a card will be left in nearby letterboxes. It will advise that tree maintenance will be taking place and include a contact number that you can call to discuss with us any concerns you may have.
Our contractors will trim the necessary vegetation and trees and remove all branches and waste. When trimmed branches fall within private property, the contractor will retrieve the debris without entering the private property boundary if possible. If they are unable to retrieve the cut branches and waste, they will leave a card and make arrangements with the resident to retrieve it at a later time.
We are improving how we deliver our vegetation maintenance program in a number of ways. We are:
- applying new vegetation clearance standards
- ensuring the use of improved cutting techniques
- talking to stakeholders like Alice Springs Town Council, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority and residents before any tree trimming or removal takes place.
We have also introduced the Tree Replacement Program as part of the wider Vegetation Maintenance Program.