A firm of Devon-based arborists has bought six specially equipped Mercedes-Benz vehicles to keep low-voltage power lines clear of tree branches.

Hi-Line Contractors' 5.0-tonne Sprinter 516 CDI are powered by advanced and fuel-efficient 163hp engines but they have been fitted with Versalift platform bodies and hydraulic access platforms to give workers a reach of up to 13.5m.

Hi-Line has a tree-cutting contract with Western Power Distribution, which covers the entire South-West. But the vehicles are also being used for work with other clients too, including Persimmon, the National Trust and Torbay Council.

The company was founded in 1998 and employs 250 people at is base at Whitestone, near Exeter, and at depots in Bodmin and Bristol.

Hi-Line previously relied on ex-BT Versalift vehicles with chassis made by another manufacturer but has now chosen the Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.

Managing Director and founder Hugh Griffiths said: 'We'd been having weight-related issues with our previous vehicles so we took a good look at the market before concluding that the 5.0-tonne Sprinter represented the best package for us.

'Clearly price was a factor but more importantly the Mercedes-Benz chassis cab is an ideal platform for Versalift's equipment, as well as offering the reliability and rugged durability for which the brand is renowned, and which we need to maintain service levels for our clients.

'We've also been impressed with the service from City West Commercials. It took the deal on, liaised with Versalift on our behalf and made the whole process very simple for us.

'We're delighted with our new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, not least because the feedback from those who drive and work with them has been resoundingly positive.'