Living with electricity easements

What all residents should know about living with electricity easements on their property

Electricity suppliers, such as Ausgrid, need electricity easements so they can maintain and safely operate their power lines.

The NSW Electricity Supply Industry appreciates that customers need to know what they can and cannot do in electricity easements, whether they own or rent the property.

This section aims to answer the most common questions about easements and briefly outlines what you can do on the easement with the written permission of Ausgrid.

What is an electricity easement?

An electricity easement is the right held by Ausgrid to control the use of your land near above-ground and underground power lines and substations. It holds this right for your own safety and to allow staff to work on the power lines at all times.

Easements also exist for telephone lines, water and sewage mains and natural gas supply lines.

Why are easements necessary?

Easements ensure the safety of the residents living, working and playing near power lines. They help prevent incidents occurring that could cause serious injury or even death.

Easements are also created to give Ausgrid clear, 24 hour access to the power lines. It is important to keep the easement clear at all times so regular maintenance, line upgrades, damage or technical faults can be attended to immediately.

Does an easement affect the value of my property?

Easements do affect the value of the property. A property is usually cheaper to buy if it has an existing easement for a power line or substation.

How does an easement affect what I can do with my property?

An easement affects the use of your property by controlling what you can build, what size trees you can plant and what outdoor activities you can carry out on the easement.

What are my responsibilities regarding electricity easements?

You must provide a continuous, unobstructed area of 4.5 metres wide along the full length of the easement to allow Ausgrid’s staff access to power lines, transformers and other equipment at all times.

You must NOT place obstructions in the easement within 5 metres of a power line, transformer, pole, equipment or support wire, or within 10 metres of a steel power line structure.

What about Electromagnetic Fields?

Power lines operated by Ausgrid comply with National Health Standards. However, we are indful of some community concern about Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and health. Find out more about EMF.

How do I know if there are easements on my property?

Contact your solicitor or the Land Titles office in your region to find out details of easements. Alternatively, you can write to Ausgrid.

What I can do on the easements

You can: 

  • Plant trees, shrubs and plants clear of vehicle access. MAXIMUM GROWTH HEIGHT OF 4 METRES. See Ausgrid’s list of suitable trees and shrubs for planting under or near power lines.
  • Erect clothes hoists and barbecues, clear of the vehicle access way. MAXIMUM HEIGHT 2.5 METRES. Metal parts MUST
    be earthed. 
  • Operate mobile plant and equipment such as cranes,cherry pickers and tractors. MAXIMUM WORKING HEIGHT 4 METRES.
  • Store materials that will not burn. MAXIMUM HEIGHT 3 METRES. 
  • Carry out normal farming, grazing and other agricultural activities. Take care when ploughing or operating mobile machinery near Ausgrid’s equipment.

What I can't do on the easements

You must not: 

  • Build houses, sheds, garages or other large structures.
  • Install fixed plant or equipment.
  • Store liquids such as petrol, diesel fuel or any flammable material.
  • Store explosives.
  • Store garbage or fallen timber.
  • Plant or cultivate trees or shrubs which grow taller than 4 metres or obstruct access to equipment, poles or steel power line structures.
  • Put obstructions within 5 metres of any power pole, equipment or support wire or within 10 metres of a steel structure.
  • Fly drones, model aircraft or kites.
  • Drive fence posts or stakes in easements where there is underground cabling.

Can I get permission from Ausgrid to use the easement?

If you are going to carry out any development, whether or not it requires approval from your local council, check with Ausgrid to see if the electricity easement will be affected.

Before any work commences, written approval is required from Ausgrid. A local council building permit is not sufficient approval.

The following list does not attempt to cover all the regulations concerning the use of easements. For more information, contact Ausgrid. 

  • Operating mobile plant equipment higher than four metres when fully extended may be allowed, depending on the space between the extended equipment and power lines.
  • Above-ground and in-ground swimming pools are rarely allowed.
  • Building fences to a maximum of 2.5 metres is normally allowed, depending on how the fence affects access to the power lines, and on the need for earthing.
  • The installation of irrigation equipment is normally allowed, if strict safety rules are met.
  • Public sporting and recreational facilities are normally allowed, subject to certain restrictions.
  • Tennis courts are rarely allowed.
  • Developing residential or industrial subdivisions is normally allowed, provided access is still available to power lines and equipment. However, allowable encroachments are very restricted.
  • Road building is normally allowed depending on power line clearances and the security of the electricity equipment.
  • Excavating, filling and altering contours is sometimes allowed, but only under the strict supervision of Ausgrid.
  • Using explosives may be allowed, as long as safety rules are met.
  • Burning off or lighting fires may be allowed for very small fires away from the wires, but a permit must be obtained first.
  • Installing utility services such as low voltage electricity, telephone or water (overhead, underground or on the surface), is normally allowed, depending on clearances to power lines and supporting structures.
  • Building garages or sheds, and unroofed verandahs and pergolas attached to homes is allowed only in very limited circumstances.

What if I have already built something on the easement without the permission of Ausgrid?

Please contact Ausgrid to discuss the matter.