In the past ten years there have been nearly 200 deaths and 4000 injuries to members of the public involving the electricity supply networks in Great Britain.

The new proposals are contained in a consultation document aimed at clarifying the responsibilities of different sectors of the industry. Proposals include:

• Raising the minimum height of overhead lines above roads, lanes, yards and driveways to at least 7.3m from an existing minimum of 5.8m for 33kV lines over roads. This would affect new lines immediately and existing lines when refurbishment took place

• Protecting distribution substations by a suitable enclosure

• Installing underground cables in ducts or overlaying them with warning tiles or tapes

• Requiring electricity companies to warn the public of dangers which may arise from activities carried out near overhead lines

• Phasing out some old safety and protective equipment, including high level insulators on overhead lines, old-style safety signs and fuses in neutral or earth connections.

The DTI said that the introduction of the new measures should not affect the quality and supply of electricity to consumers.