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Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR) FAQs

Incidents

Legislation

Overhead lines

What is the safe distance from overhead lines to buildings, both existing and proposed?

The industry has certain design guidance to ensure the law is complied with and that overhead lines are positioned away from danger. You should contact the local electricity company to discuss the application of the guidance at any particular site.

What is the minimum height of an overhead line conductor above ground?

The minimum height varies, depending on the voltage carried by the line. Schedule 2 of The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 gives the ground clearances for different types of line. However, you should discuss the application of this information in respect of any use of the land with the local electricity company.

The electricity company doesn't carry out any maintenance, inspection or tree cutting. What can I do?

You should firstly discuss your concerns with the company. If you are not satisfied with their response, then raise a formal complaint with HSE. Do not arrange to carry out any tree cutting yourself where trees come near or into contact with overhead lines.

I think some of the poles supporting the power lines are in a dangerous location. What can I do?

You should firstly discuss your concerns with the electricity company. If you are not satisfied with their response, then raise a formal complaint with HSE.

Where can I get more information about overhead lines and electrical safety?

For HSE guidance, see: Overhead power lines. See also the Public safety: Overhead power lines information, provided by the Energy Networks Association.

Electricity supply companies

Where can I found out which is my local electricity network operator?

The National Grid has a online map, together with the electricity operator for each area.

Underground cables

What do I need to know before starting digging work? Are there statutory depths for underground cables?

There are no statutory depths for underground cables, as ground levels may have changed since the original installation and without the knowledge of the cable owner. However, there is guidance available from HSE (see: Excavation and underground services). Guidance is also available from the street works industry's representative body (NJUG) and the Energy Networks Association (ENA). The ENA also provide contact information for anyone planning excavation work, see: Dial before you dig.

Can I rely on the cable records provided?

No, they are only a guide. The position of the cables should be confirmed by proper use of location equipment and the application of safe digging techniques. More information about safe digging techniques is available in HSE's Avoiding danger from underground services.

The plans I was sent did not show all of the cables. What should I do?

The plans are only a guide. The position of the cables should be confirmed by proper use of location equipment and the application of safe digging techniques. More information about underground cables and electrical safety is available in HSE's Avoiding danger from underground services.

Substations and their security

The substation fence is broken and people could get in. Who should I contact?

Raise the matter with the local electricity network operator. If you think they have not responded adequately, you should raise a complaint with HSE.

Is there a legal requirement for the type of fence used (wood panel, weldmesh, etc)?

Regulation 11 of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 provides the minimum legal requirements. If you have particular concerns, then you should contact the local electricity network operator. If you believe they haven't responded adequately, then raise a complaint with HSE.

Children are playing in my local substation. Who should I contact?

You should contact the local electricity network operator. If you believe they haven't responded adequately, then raise a complaint with HSE.

Electricity pylons

There is a building / structure near to a pylon and there are overhead lines. Is it safe?

The industry has certain design guidance to ensure both compliance with the law and that overhead lines are positioned away from danger. You should contact the local electricity company to discuss the application of the guidance at any particular site.

Who do I complain to regarding the pylon?

You can complain to the owner of the pylon, which will either be your local electricity network operator or National Grid.

Children are playing around the pylon and causing interference. Shouldn't the company prevent this?

The owner of the pylon, which will be either your local electricity network operator or National Grid, should:

  • ensure others are not able to interfere with their assets
  • carry out regular inspections to ensure the adequacy of their equipment and protective measures

If you have concerns this is not happening, then raise a complaint with HSE.

Can't the overhead line be buried underground?

This would incur considerable expense and should be first discussed with the line owner, as this is a matter between you and them. HSE cannot adjudicate on costs.

Electricity meters

I live in a block of flats and the meters are located in a communal position which I think is dangerous. What should I do?

This is a matter for the landlord. Meter inspectors should also report any dangerous issues they find.

What should I do if a meter is located either too close to other apparatus, or in an inaccessible location?

You should take this matter up with your supplier (ie the company you pay your bills to).

I want my service connection repositioned but the costs are prohibitive. Can HSE advise on what I can do?

This is not a matter for HSE, you should discuss this with your local electricity company. However, you must not interfere with the electricity company's equipment.

Who has responsibility for the condition of meter cabinets?

Meter cabinets (manufactured to a suitable industry standard) are deemed part of the fabric of the building. They are therefore owned and maintained by the customer (ie the building owner). Where damage to the meter box or meter box door puts the network equipment at risk or the public at danger, the damage may be repaired by the network operator. The network operator may be able to provide steel vandal-resistant replacement covers / doors, where required, but may make a charge for repairs or replacements.

Electromagnetic fields

Updated 2016-03-11