Don’t cut back on safety, urges NIE

NIE tree cutting crews clearing vegetation near the electricity network.

NIE tree cutting crews clearing vegetation near the electricity network.

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‘Cut your risk of injury’ is the message from Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) as it reminds everyone to be aware of the dangers of felling trees and cutting hedges close to the electricity network.

The winter months provide a great opportunity for farmers and landowners to cut back trees and hedges before the nesting season begins at the start of March. However, there have been a number of recent incidents where lives have been put at risk, and the electricity network seriously damaged, when vegetation was being cut back.

Kevin McDowell, NIE Head of Health, Safety and Environment, hopes the campaign will encourage everyone planning tree or hedge cutting work to follow some simple safety precautions. Kevin says: “We encourage everyone considering this type of work to consult with NIE before starting work. Our tree cutting services are provided at no cost, so please don’t endanger yourself or others by attempting to prune or remove trees near overhead power lines.

“This type of damage to the electricity network may also cause local communities to lose their electricity supplies, inconveniencing homes and businesses in the area.”

If you are planning to carry out any tree or hedge cutting, please follow these safety

• Do not cut trees or hedges which are directly below live overhead power lines, or if they are within five metres (16ft 4inches) of lines unless you have informed NIE.

• Plan ahead. If you are unsure about how close your tree or hedge cutting work will come to overhead power lines, contact NIE for advice. We may need to switch off the electricity on an overhead circuit to allow you to work safely. We need to notify customers in the area that their electricity will be disrupted and this will take time.

• If you are informed of a planned interruption of supply, do not assume that all overhead power lines in the area will be off. Call NIE on 03457 643 643 for more information.

• If you are hedge cutting using a tractor mounted flail cutter or other mechanical method remember to look out for and avoid NIE poles or stay wires, which may be positioned in close proximity to the hedge.

• If you plant a new tree, or replace an existing tree, please ensure you chose a location well away from the electricity network to allow the tree to grow to its full potential. Correct planting will reduce the likelihood of power outages.

Kevin adds, “We know this is a busy time of the year for farmers and agricultural contractors as they tidy up trees and hedgerows in preparation for Spring, but planning your work and identifying the risks before starting work could mean the difference between life and death. Our message is clear - look up, look out and stay away from overhead lines.”

If you are planning work in the vicinity of the electricity network please contact NIE on 03457 643 643 or visit nie.co.uk for additional safety advice.