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ADAS unites electricity industry to conquer tree problems

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Environmental consultancy ADAS has united the electricity industry to address one of the biggest causes of electricity outages every year – damage by trees and vegetation is estimated to cost the industry over £50 million annually in management and compensation.

Representatives from all the major Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) as well as Ofgem and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi), attended the conference on 14th June to hear how effective vegetation management can help improve service to customers and aid companies’ compliance with new Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity (ESQC) regulations.

ADAS’s head of sustainable land management Martin Buckland comments: “It may surprise people to realise that problems caused by vegetation are the greatest cause of electricity outages in the UK, and climate change is only making the situation worse. More storm events and adverse weather, combined with more rapid growth of vegetation generally, mean that keeping control of trees across electricity networks is more important than ever before. The industry must challenge existing practices and become more innovative in their approach to overcome these difficulties.”

The ADAS event was also the setting for the launch of a new technical report, ‘Vegetation Management near Electricity Equipment – Principals of Good Practice’, by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), which supported the event.

Electricity outages due to vegetation increased by almost 200% last year on the previous year. The result is that vegetation is costing the industry – and customers – increasing sums of money, and while some DNOs are starting to invest more in addressing the problem, many have a significant way to go to meet the new regulatory standards.

Martin Buckland continues: “With new requirements for DNOs to introduce risk-based vegetation management programs for at least 20 per cent of their networks by January 2009, this is an issue the industry simply can’t afford to ignore.”

The conference was so well received that planning is already underway for a follow-up event which will seek to involve a range of additional stakeholders.

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