HAVING spent the last decade caring for the forest around them, Gleniffer residents Jaki and Jon Lockyer were keen to be involved when Essential Energy came knocking in February.
The company, Australia's largest electricity network with more than 200,000 kilometres of powerlines across 95 % of NSW, was working through the Bellingen area, checking private properties to ensure a safe and reliable power supply for landholders.
"Trees and powerlines do not mix, with vegetation a leading cause of unplanned supply interruptions," Rachel Hussell, manager community relations North Coast, said.
"Our trained vegetation officers are responsible for checking vegetation near powerlines and ensuring there are no potential hazards to lines."
Armed with the Essential Energy's Vegetation Management Plan and knowledge of the legislation (which requires a 20 metre corridor below power lines) Mr and Mrs Lockyer negotiated a staged removal of vegetation on their land.
With stage one now completed the couple say they are pleased with the result.
"We needed to have quite a few meetings with the officer to get a suitable outcome and the result after this first trimming is good," Mr Lockyer said.
"I had ongoing input on the day the work was done and that helped. Knowledge of the vegetation was important."
Mrs Lockyer said being informed and having a flexible approach to the negotiation process was the key to getting a good result.
"Of course Essential Energy must attend to the short and medium-term safety risks as required by legislation," she said.
"We are grateful this staged approach gives us some time to raise screening plants before they cut that 20m swathe through our forest."
Ms Hussell said Essential Energy also held annual aerial inspections using helicopters throughout the North Coast.
"The aerial inspections allow Essential Energy to systematically assess the electricity network and easily pinpoint potential weaknesses, including faults, areas where the network has suffered damage from storms or where there is vegetation overhanging powerlines," Ms Hussell said.
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