I am today announcing a new policy on the application of section 10 and paragraph 9 of schedule 4 to the Electricity Act 1989, concerning the minimum length of notice to be given to occupiers and owners of land in relation to tree felling, lopping or root pruning in cases where there has been a dispute between an electricity licence holder and an occupier or owner of land.
Section 10 and paragraph 9 of schedule 4 give electricity licence holders power to give notice requiring the felling, lopping or the cutting back of the roots of a tree to the occupier and owner of land on which a tree is, or will be:
in such close proximity to an electric line or electric plant so as to obstruct or interfere with the installation, maintenance or working of the line,
or where a tree constitutes an unacceptable source of danger (whether to children or other persons).
The licence holder must pay the reasonable costs of the expenses incurred in complying with the notice.
If the notice is not complied with within 21 days, and no counter notice is served by the occupier or owner objecting to the requirements of the notice, the licence holder may cause the tree to be felled, lopped or the roots cut back, as the case may be, to prevent the effects mentioned above.
If, however, the occupier or owner serves a counter notice, objecting to the requirements of the notice, the matter is referred to the Secretary of State to settle the dispute—unless the counter notice is withdrawn. After giving all the parties the opportunity to be heard, the Secretary of State may make an order to grant access to land to carry out such tree felling, lopping or root pruning as will prevent the effects mentioned above.
The Secretary of State has the power to require the licence holder to serve such notice to any person by whom a counter notice was given of the commencement of the work as the order may direct. I have decided that future orders will require the licence holder to give occupiers and owners who serve a counter notice a minimum of seven days’ notice before the licence holder may enter onto land under the order to carry out works. The seven day notice requirement will only be imposed where the reason for granting the order is that a tree obstructs or interferes with the installation, maintenance or working of the line or plant. Immediate entry will still be available to the licence holder where the tree poses an unacceptable danger to persons. This policy will provide an additional safeguard to occupiers and owners of land on the reasonable execution of this power of entry.
This new policy is being introduced following a review of the powers of entry for which I am responsible, as required under section 42 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.