We own 13,000km of overhead lines, that's enough to stretch from Manchester to Darwin in Australia and often these are near to trees. We have a continual tree cutting programe to manage tree growth which may impact you every 2-5 years. Our team of 80 dedicated tree cutters and our tree cutting department work hard to ensure we continue to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity. Our skilled professionals carry out essential tree cutting maintenance to help reduce the risk of branches touching power lines, which may cause unexpected loss of electricity supply to our 5 million customers.
Watch our 'Tree-cutting team' video for an insight into the work our dedicated tree-cutting team do.
Tree cutting FAQs
How will you cut the trees?
Trees are cut back to specified distances that are agreed prior to the work starting, this distance takes into account the safety and re-growth of each individual species. All work is carried out to the Utility Arboriculture practices and to British Standards (BS3998).
What happens to the timber waste?
Everything that has been cut can be broken down to manageable sizes and either: made into wildlife habitat piles; left on-site to bio-degrade, chipped, or we can take the timber away. The options will be agreed with the landowner.
Will anyone be charged for this work?
All the work carried out is to maintain the service we provide to our customers and therefore it is done free of charge.
We have a strategic plan to replace our assets to ensure we continue to provide a safe and reliable supply to our 5 million customers. This plan also includes future-proofing the network for technological changes such as smart meters, electric vehicles, etc. We replace over 3000 assets every year which includes substations, poles, transformers and the like. We plan this work in advance, most of which will not impact you - but where it does we always aim to give you advance notice to minimise any disruption you experience.
We own 33,000 Substations, 44,000km of underground cables,13,000km of overhead lines and 170,786 poles as part of our electricity network. Every year we carry out inspections and maintenance of our equipment to ensure we continue to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to our customers. This helps to prevent any unexpected loss of electricity supply to our 5 million customers.
In maintaining our network we also take proactive steps that will not impact your supply in order to ensure the health of the network. This may include cleaning and weeding our substations twice a year, tree cutting and protecting our equipment from the elements.
Each year we connect approximately 6,000 new customers to our electricity network. In the future the requirement for electricity will increase, we are already preparing our network for this additional demand and sometimes this means that we have to turn off your electricity supply. As we are making these changes we are building our network to be more intelligent and robust to reduce the disruptions to our customers in the future.
Why do you have planned interruptions in the winter?
Our engineers work all year round to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to customers. Our work includes routine maintenance, replacement of old equipment, upgrading of the network, and cutting back trees all of which is aimed at preventing interruptions to customers’ supplies.
Can’t you reschedule all work when it gets cold?
We maintain more than 13,000km of overhead lines, 43,000km of underground cables and 38,000 substations throughout the North West. The work required to ensure that electricity supplies remain reliable to all of our customers forms a busy annual programme, upon which the size of our workforce is based.
Rescheduling all of our work when it gets cold not only presents a risk of unplanned interruptions but makes it increasingly difficult to complete our annual work programmes.
How can you shut off power to vulnerable people?
Whenever we become aware of vulnerable customers who will be affected by a planned supply interruption, wherever possible we attempt to mitigate the effects for those customers. We always provide at least two days’ notice, and usually seven days, so that customers can make alternative arrangements.
We may be able to provide additional support to those customers who have additional needs through our Priority Services Register. This helps us to keep track of all of our vulnerable customers in the region.
What does it take for you to cancel a planned interruption?
We always assess the weather conditions and temperature on the morning of a planned shutdown. It is not usually possible to cancel in advance based on forecasts as local weather conditions may vary. If the weather does cause a cancellation, the work will still need doing when the weather improves.
If you don’t do the work, will the network immediately fail?
The network must be maintained to reduce unplanned supply interruptions for customers. We can reduce the risk of the network failing by carrying out maintenance where and when it is needed, regardless of the time of year.
What do you offer for people during interruptions? Hot drinks? Blankets? Somewhere to go?
During a planned outage we hope that the notice provided ahead of the interruption will provide people the time to make arrangements.
We do encourage customers to contact us with any concerns and we will address these on an individual basis.
We may be able to provide additional support to those customers who have additional needs through our Priority Services Register . This helps us to keep track of all of our vulnerable customers in the region.
What do you offer in compensation to customers who suffer these planned interruptions?
In order to carry out some of our work safely it is necessary to switch small parts of our network. This is recognised by the industry regulator Ofgem, who require us to give a minimum of two days notice to customers who are affected by any planned interruption.
We aim to give our customers at least seven days notice of a planned supply interruption in order that they can consider what arrangements they need to make or to enable them to contact us. If we fail to give customers two days notice of a planned supply interruption then they are entitled to a compensation payment of £22.
Why do you have to shut people off for eight hours at a time?
Customers are given warning of the maximum time that their power will be interrupted, although in reality many customers are reconnected sooner than a full eight hours.