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Staying safe around overhead lines

Overhead power lines can be dangerous

Overhead power lines can be dangerous, so you need to be aware of them whether you are at work or play. This includes the service line to your house.

If you hit an overhead line there’s a real risk of electrocution, explosion, flash over or fire.

Close approach consent

If you’re going to be working closer than four metres to lines, poles or power boxes, you’ll need a close approach consent. This is a legal requirement set down by New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice – NZECP 34:2001 Electrical Safe Distances.

This code of practice:

  • requires any person who carries out any work near power lines or poles to maintain safe distances
  • states a minimum safe approach distance of four metres for any mechanical plant or scaffolding. We may permit a shorter distance if we can determine that safety isn’t compromised
  • states that where any work is to be done within five metres of a tower, pole or stay wire, we must provide consent in writing before any excavation is carried out. Temporary support of a pole may be required during excavation.

You can learn more about safe digging near power poles here.

When working or building near overhead lines you also need to consider what’s below the ground. To avoid damage and risk of electrocution, it’s important to know where power or fibre pipes and cables are before you dig.

Organise a close approach consent

You can arrange a close approach consent online or contact us. Please allow at least two working days to process your request.

If you need to work near power lines urgently or on a weekend or public holiday please call us.

Building near overhead lines

Buildings and structures, like garages and house extensions need to remain well clear of overhead lines. If a structure is too close to the lines, you may need to put power underground.

Minimum distances allowed between any new buildings and overhead lines have been set by the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice NZECP 34:2001. Minimum safe distances depend on the overhead lines’ voltage.

Any work above an overhead line requires a working near lines consent.

To find out the voltage of the lines you plan to build near please contact us.

Safe distances from buildings to overhead lines

Here are the minimum safe distances from buildings to overhead lines as outlined in Table 2 of NZECP 34:2001




Not exceeding 1kV

Exceeding 1kV but not exceeding 11kV

Exceeding 11kV but not exceeding 33kV

Exceeding 33kV but not exceeding 110kV

Exceeding 110kV

Minimum distance beneath power lines (orange D icon)





Refer to Table 2 of NZECP34 (page 9)

Minimum distance to side of power lines (yellow D icon)





Refer to Table 2 of NZECP34 (page 9)

If your works don't comply

For non-compliant work, specialist engineering advice will then be required to confirm that the works comply with Table 3 of NZECP 34:2001 (see page 11 of The New Zealand Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances).

For specialist engineering advice, please get in touch.

Learn more about staying safe around power lines

Fallen power lines

Safe guy wires

Safe service lines