Media release: for immediate release Wednesday 3 May 2023
The Government, through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is asking for feedback regarding their discussion document on the review of the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003. These are the regulations that determine how trees growing near to electrical supply infrastructure will be managed.
The Tree Council recognises the importance of establishing reliable electrical supply and therefore the necessity for some regulation in the management of electricity supply around trees. However, we also recognise the critical importance of proper long-term management, protection and care for trees given the essential benefits and services they provide to our communities particularly in addressing climate change.
Trees are living assets that deliver a sustainable, healthy, liveable environment for all of us. As such trees are just as important and essential as the electrical supply infrastructure.
Sadly, based on the discussion document the MBIE does not share this view of the importance of trees, amongst the options being considered are:
- Restricting the distance in which new trees can be planted/replanted in proximity to electricity lines – if adopted this will result in the removal of large numbers of trees across the country
- Extending the Growth Limit Zone (GLZ), a protected corridor around vulnerable electricity assets from the current 4m to 24m – if adopted this will result in the removal of large numbers of trees across the country.
You can read the full proposals here:
Although the MBIE is hoping to get responses to twenty-six detailed questions, The Tree Council hopes that our members and supporters will take the time to send a much simpler and clear message to the government regarding the care and protection of trees that play a vital role in our community.
The Tree Council encourages the public to take the time to write to the MBIE to tell them how important our living green assets are. Here are a few bullet points that you might like to include in your submission:
- Trees are living assets delivering a sustainable, healthy, liveable environment that are just as important and essential as the electrical supply infrastructure
- Trees increase wellbeing and the liveability of the urban environment. They play a significant environmental role by reducing heat, filtering air, intercepting water and reducing stormwater runoff.
- Trees reduce flooding by protecting hillsides and slopes and sequester carbon. Trees provide a range of environmental service benefits that help to offset the future impacts of climate related changes that are predicted to occur. – None of these benefits and services are acknowledged in the MBIE discussion document
- Recent storm events across New Zealand related to climate change have had devastating effects due to insufficient planning, planting and management of trees in both urban and rural areas.
- Between 1980 and 2016, green space per person fell by at least 30% in Auckland, and at least 20% in Hamilton. Nearly all of this loss occurred on private residential land.
- Across the country local authorities are struggling to improve the quality and availability of public green spaces to compensate for the loss of private yards and gardens.
- As the density of urban populations continues to grow, it is fundamental that trees are allowed to grow and be managed in urban areas alongside utility services.
- Putting restrictions in place to prevent the planting of new trees and proposing the removal of further trees will exacerbate the existing negative impacts from vegetation losses. This shows a lack of stewardship of our natural infrastructure assets and is irresponsible in the face of the existential climate change driven issues we are facing as a country.
- The industry should be proposing solutions that are more resilient for both our electricity infrastructure and our natural assets, such as progressive undergrounding of power lines and improved selection of suitable planting sites and smaller tree species. These regulations should require this approach from the industry.
Send your submission to HazardsFromTrees@mbie.govt.nz before the deadline of 5pm on Friday 5 May 2023.
Attn: Hon Dr Megan Woods, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment PO Box 1473, Wellington 6140