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Working near overhead power lines

If you want to work near overhead power lines, a written application must be made. You will be issued with a consent setting out minimum approach distances and any other safety measures.

The New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice 34 - Safety Distances requires any person who carries out any work near power lines to maintain safe distances. The minimum safe approach distance for any mechanical plant or scaffolding is four metres. We may permit a lesser distance where we are satisfied that safety will not be compromised.

Allow a minimum of at least five working days for the application to be processed.

Apply to work near overhead power lines

Excavating near power poles

Any excavations near power poles need to be made with special care to ensure that poles don't fall.

Power poles have strains placed on them by virtue of the weight of the overhead conductors. Any lowering of the depth of the ground around a pole causes the groundmass to become unstable, thereby weakening the support of the pole. Often the load-strain is not through the centre of the pole so any change in loading can cause the pole to fall.

The New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice 34 - Safety Distances requires that where any work is to be done within 2.2 metres of a pole and at a depth of greater than 300 mm, we must provide consent in writing before any excavation is carried out.

Temporary support of the pole may be required during excavation. A pole support guide can be found here.

For more information about digging near power poles please visit our before you dig page.

Apply to dig near power poles

Minimum safe distance

Getting near or contacting power lines can be fatal or lead to serious injury.

Everyone working on building sites or anywhere near overhead lines has a legal requirement to maintain the minimum safe distance from power lines as set down by New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice – NZECP 34:2001 Electrical Safe Distances.

Please read our safe distances for contractors information sheet or you can call us on 0800 66 11 77 to talk to someone about safe working distances during construction.

All structures and work activities should be kept at least four metres from power lines.

If approval for this is given, then it applies only to the lines in the street or locality specified, and only to your machine while it is operated by you. All applications need a minimum of five working days to be processed and returned. Send your completed form to

Work safe near power lines

  • Treat all lines as live at all times.
  • DO NOT go near or touch a downed line.
  • DO NOT climb any power pole or pylon.
  • LOOK UP before handling long objects or using mechanical plant. High voltage electricity can jump across gaps - you don't need to touch the lines to get killed.
  • BE SAFE when trimming trees so that they don't fall into power lines.
  • DO NOT excavate around power poles without speaking to us first.