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There is no amenity left in this street tree in Warren Road.

There is no amenity left in this street tree in Warren Road & this is what is being done to the street trees all through our streets.

In a media release dated 21st February 2014, Marrickville Mayor Haylen said “Councillors were unanimous in expressing outrage about the excessive tree pruning practices used by Ausgrid.”

“We have asked Ausgrid for immediate clarification of their powers to prune trees.  While we accept that some pruning is necessary to protect electrical wires, it does appear that some of the overpruning is occurring because contractors are also pruning to lower hanging data & communications cables, rather than just the higher electrical wires.  This has resulted in some horribly butchered street trees & residents are highly distressed.”

Council has called on Ausgrid to provide resources for the bundling of overhead wires, especially when the pruning of street & park trees would be excessive.”

At the Council Meeting of 18th February 2014, Councillors passed the following motion (this started from a Notice of Motion brought to Council by Clr Phillips. See – –


1.    Council expresses its grave concerns about the recent changes to street tree pruning practices being implemented by Ausgrid & considers the methods excessive & unreasonable.

2.    Ausgrid provide immediate clarification to Council of the authority vested in it by NSW Electricity Supply Act 1995 to prune for clearance data & communications cables as opposed to its own electrical wires.

3.    Ausgrid provide resources for the aerial bundling of overhead wires in locations where the impact of tree pruning on street & park trees is excessive & unacceptable.

4.    Council review its standard conditions of development for larger developments to aspire to provide for the undergrounding of overhead wires & data cables at no cost to Council.

5.    Council’s proposed Street Tree Master Plan identify the need for the selection of street tree species to take account of the site conditions, including the presence of overhead wires.

6.    Council consider, as part of future budgets, the need for ongoing allocation of new funds to provide for the regular pruning of street trees by Council’s own contractors.

7.    Council write to the NSW Minister of Resource & Energy, Anthony Roberts, MP, expressing its concerns about recent changes to Electricity Network Standards, adopted by Ausgrid, that require tree clearances of up to 3.0 metres to overhead wires.  Further that Council requests that urgent consideration be given to the amendment of these standards to provide for more reasonable clearances, no more than previously in force.

8.    Prunings be removed from streets on the same day they are cut.”

Halleluiah!   Finally, something will be done & hopefully before Ausgrid remove the remaining tree canopy throughout Marrickville municipality. 

As to whether they have legal rights to prune 1-metre minimum under the telecommunications cables, this is what someone who has 25-years of working in the telecommunications industry told me –

“The power cables are all attached to cross arms, the lowest ones are for normal residential use, those above are for high voltage, the bigger the insulators the higher the voltage.

Telstra have been using power poles for many years to deliver telephone services.  In Sydney you will find that they still have over 40% of their network attached to poles.  It is not all underground, as many people believe.

Optus cables are hung approx 1-metre below the low voltage power cables.  This was done as they found it to expensive to use Telstra’s network and it was not feasible to run it underground.

Foxtel cable is then hung approximately x 1-metre below the Optus Cables.  This was done as a fast and efficient method to roll out Pay TV and be competitive with Optus.

Foxtel/Telstra cables are very low voltage; the same as the Optus cables.  There is no real reason to vandalise the trees, but the contractors are cowboys and use the excuse that they could cause a problem.  The only problem that could happen is that people lose their phone or Pay TV connection if a tree branch damaged the cable.

The power companies are covered by an act of parliament that allows them to prune if required because of the problems caused if their cables are damaged.

We should also be aware that the NBN mob are putting pressure on the Government to allow them to also go up on the poles, even though the power companies are opposed to it. The Pay TV and telephone cables are causing huge problems for the power companies because it takes the telco’s too long to fix or move their cables when there is a problem.

I understand that at this time the Pay TV and telcos cannot put any more cables on the power poles.  They can only replace like for like if a cable is damaged.

The other thing that causes issues is that no one really knows who actually owns all the poles.  There are the power companies’, Telstra, State Rail and privately owned poles.  Very confusing.

But at the end of the day there is no real reason why they need to hack the trees back so severely when they are close to the Optus or Foxtel cables.”

One last thing I would like to know is why Ausgrid need to do 18-month pruning cycles, when Energy Australia managed quite well with 7-8 year cycles.  Four to five extra pruning visits seems a lot for the public to have to pay for, while at the same time losing amenity.

Thank you to Marrickville Council for taking a stand on this issue.  The trees, the wildlife & the community deserve much more than having their street trees butchered in the manner in which they have been.

I recently wrote about Ausgrid’s tree pruning in Marrickville here – , here, here and here

Two branches left

Two branches left



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