Pruning the trees along Seymour’s Tallarook Street to keep them away from powerlines looks set to continue.
A Mitchell Shire Council investigation found few alternative options, with relocation of the wires discovered to be prohibitively expensive.
In June last year, councillors moved for officers to prepare a report reviewing the possibility of bundling power line spans along the street to improve visual amenity or rerouting high-voltage power lines away from Tallarook Street.
Officers delivered a report at last month’s meeting recommending council continue its current practice of pruning the plane trees to keep them away from the power lines, noting that alternative options were far more expensive.
Officers found it currently cost council about $15,000 a year to prune the trees, and with recent changes to electrical safety regulations requiring only half a metre of clearance instead of a metre, pruning costs would potentially decrease in coming years.
Aerial bundling of wires was estimated at a cost of between $25,000 and $30,000 per span of wires between each set of power pylons, with additional costs for design work and property upgrades that could push the cost for each span to between $750,000 and $1.1 million.
Even bundling only key spans of wires was estimated to cost $90,000 before factoring in property upgrades and would result in ‘minimal improvement in terms of pruning requirements’ according to the officer report.
Relocation of the wires was found to be ‘far more costly’ than bundling and was not considered.
Cr Rhonda Sanderson said council staff consulted with electricity distributor AusNet Services, which did not support the bundling or relocation of the lines.
“If the wires lead to a property there’s a lot of extra work, not just the bundling,” she said.
“Staff may explore trialling a growth inhibitor for 12 months … that may reduce the growth [of the trees], which means there is not as much pruning.”
Cr Rob Eldridge said investigating alternative options had been ‘worth a try because it [is] such a beautiful boulevard and has the potential to be even better’.