Intensification & building near powerlines


A significant amount of Vector’s urban electricity network is overhead - you’ll see power poles and lines in most Auckland neighbourhoods and business districts. A crucial part of our infrastructure, these lines supply electricity to households and businesses. 

Because of high demand for new housing, current planning rules allow more homes to be built in urban areas. This means houses and buildings are getting taller and closer to boundaries, which often means they are closer to overhead powerlines.  

There needs to be enough space around the overhead powerlines to safely supply electricity and avoid the possibility of serious harm, or even a fatality, to anyone working near the lines. 

To keep people safe, there are minimum approach distances under the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances (NZECP 34). This code covers buildings, structures, scaffolding, mobile plant and machinery near overhead lines. 

Compliance with ECP 34 is a legal obligation – failure to comply can result in serious injury or death, and prosecution by Worksafe. It can also result in very expensive work to move affected lines underground or demolish infringing work – at the cost of the person responsible for the infringing work.  


DID YOU KNOW? Compliance with minimum approach distances under NZECP 34 is a separate standard you need to meet – it is not included in the resource consent or building consent you get from Auckland Council. Even if the council has signed off on your building work and you have a valid consent, you still need to check that you will comply with NZECP 34 before you go ahead with your work.  



Get it right the first time 

If you are planning a new development, extension, renovation or maintenance, look out for nearby overhead lines  - even if they are located in the road or on a neighbouring site - and make sure your building (and any scaffolding) is far enough away from the line in compliance with NZECP 34. See these useful links: 

Don’t take risks when operating machinery 

If you’re operating a digger, Hiab crane, truck or other mobile machinery near overhead lines, take the time to stay safe. Make sure you and your equipment are at least four metres away from overhead lines at all times. If you need to get closer than that, you must obtain a close approach consent from Vector. You must also obtain a close approach consent to excavate within five metres of a pole or within 12 metres of a tower or pylon - more info here -