SSEN trials electric tree-cutting kit in the South East to reduce noise and pollution

SSEN's Adam Tollefsen with one of the items of the all-electric tree-cutting kit being trialled across the South East

As a considerate constructor, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has an ongoing commitment to minimise disruption, noise and pollution while ensuring the highest levels of safety for both its customers and colleagues as it works to keep the power flowing to the communities it serves.

As a result, SSEN’s tree-cutting team in the distribution operator’s South East region will swap their fuel-powered saws, hedge cutters and leaf blowers for rechargeable, electrical equipment over the next eight weeks as part of a trial that aims to further help SSEN reduce noise and air pollution; improving working conditions for its staff and reducing potential disturbance to those living in areas where trees and vegetation are being managed.

Serving over 750,000 homes and businesses across the South East in areas including Hampshire, Portsmouth, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight, SSEN carries out regular tree-cutting - in accordance with nesting times and other environmental factors - to ensure branches and vegetation remain a safe distance away from power lines, thereby reducing the risk of contact with overhead power lines which can result in power cuts.

Throughout 2020, SSEN’s tree-cutting team explored the various fully-electric options available, before settling on a set of equipment that covered their needs and their commitment to decarbonisation. The findings from the trial will be available later in the spring and will seek to address SSEN’s desire to improve the way it works for customers, colleagues and the environment.

SSEN’s Performance and Delivery Manager, Jamie Jones was instrumental in setting up the trial and said:

“Much of our tree-cutting activity takes place in rural areas, which are already quiet by nature; by trialling this carefully selected kit in these areas, we will have a comprehensive overview on how it benefits our customers in terms of noise reduction and with the removal of fuel-driven equipment, a reduction in potential air pollution.

“In the event of a power cut, where a tree or branch may have damaged an overhead power line, we can be called out to work during the night, so having significantly quieter kit to carry out these works will result in minimal disruption to those living nearby. There are also safety benefits to our own colleagues through the reduction in noise and vibration of the equipment, and the elimination of working closely with fuel-powered tools.”

He added:

“This trial of fast-charging tree-cutting equipment, that will be used on a daily basis, will give SSEN a valuable insight into another cleaner, greener way of working that we hope to be able to utilise across our business in central southern England and the north of Scotland.”

As safety is a key priority for SSEN, all of the tree-cutting team taking part in the trial have been fully trained in the operation and maintenance of this waterproof, battery-charged equipment to ensure both their safety and that of customers living and working in the vicinity of their use.

This trial is part of a broader effort by SSEN to decarbonise its equipment and support the net zero transition. SSEN is a signatory of the EV100 commitment and as part of SSE Group will shift 3,500 vehicles to electric by 2030, and is investing in its infrastructure to support and meet the Government’s net zero targets; working to understand the ambitions of the communities it serves, to enable this transition.