FAQs

These FAQs provide a summary of some of the issues concerning trees. These do not cover every scenario and issue and if you have any doubts please contact Council's Parks and Trees Coordinator on 8752 1507.


Do I need approval to prune or remove a tree from my property?
To protect and preserve the Municipality's trees, Council has a Tree Preservation Order in place. The Order applies to trees growing in private and public places.

Under the Order, you must obtain Council's written consent before cutting down, pruning, ring barking, topping, lopping, or removing most types of trees. Heavy fines apply for breaching the Tree Preservation Order and for injuring or wilfully destroying a tree.

You need approval to prune or remove tree(s) equal to or above 5 metres in height and not exempt under the Tree Preservation Order. You need to submit a tree application with the appropriate fee for tree removal, prior to carrying out the work.

What trees am I able to prune or remove without Council approval?
You do not need approval if the tree is smaller than 5 metres or the tree is one of the following:

  • Privet trees, Citrus, Rubber trees, Olive, Rhus, Stone fruits, Cotoneaster, Cocos palms, Coral trees, Golden Cypress conifers and Umbrella trees
  • Camphor laurel, Liquidambar, Poplar and Willow trees provided the tree is within three (3) metres of a dwelling or a sewer line and causing damage to the dwelling or blockage to the sewer line. Only the owners of the tree, dwelling or sewer line directly affected can effect removal under this exemption

You also do not need approval for the following pruning:

  • Noxious weeds
  • Maintenance of minimum clearance of 500mm from domestic power lines
  • Pruning to remove deadwood/branches
  • Minor pruning of branches directly overhanging the roof of any building to a height of 2 metres only with the agreement of the owner of the tree
  • Trees overhanging a public road including footpaths for the purpose of removal of a hazard to a height of 2.4 metres above ground level

For all other work on trees including removal you need Council approval.

Do I need approval to remove a dead tree?
No, but the tree must be completely dead. If you are unsure, telephone the Parks and Tree Coordinator on 8752 1507.

How can I identify exempt species?
If you are unsure about the identity of a tree take a sample to a local nursery for identification.
Prior to removal ensure that a qualified person identifies the species because if there is a breach of the Tree Preservation Order it will not be sufficient defence that the species was not appropriately identified prior to its removal

Who can apply to remove a tree?
Generally a property owner or agent makes application to Council for removal of a tree.
If a person seeks to remove a neighbouring tree, permission must be obtained from the owner of the tree prior to a request being made to Council for consent to remove a tree.
In the case of a strata titled property, consent of the body corporate must be obtained prior to making an application to Council.

How do I apply for permission to prune or remove a tree?
You must complete the application form for approval of tree removal and pay a fee.
You must be the owner of the property on which the trunk of the tree is located, or have written permission of the owner.
Please contact Council on 9716 1800 if you would like an application form mailed to you.

Should I submit supporting information with my application?
If a tree is proposed to be removed because it is causing problems, for example, structural damage to a house, blockages to a sewer line or it is believed to be structurally unsound as a result of pest attack or its growth, supporting documents and/or reports from a relevant professional should accompany the application.

What happens to the application once it is lodged with Council?
Upon receipt, the relevant Council Officer reviews the application before conducting an inspection of the tree.
The officer evaluates the tree in terms of its health and condition, its significance, danger of proximity of falling limbs to existing or proposed structures, and the applicant's reasons for the works.

On what basis will tree works generally be approved?
Where a tree is considered structurally unsound, unstable or declining in health then approval would normally be given for removal.

Where trees are causing damage to property Council will consider a removal application where the damage is substantial and removal is the best option.

Council may consider granting consent to remove a tree where in Council's opinion a tree is significantly misshapen and/or of such insignificance that its removal would not affect the overall streetscape or amenity of an area.

Permission is usually refused if you are seeking to remove a tree simply because it is shedding leaves, bark, twigs, cones or fruit, or causing minor damage.

Pruning which is necessary to improve tree health and stability and reduce risk would normally be approved.
Lopping, topping and otherwise drastically pruning trees would not normally be approved.

What if the tree is not native?
While Council does encourage the planting and preservation of our local native trees, the fact that a tree is not a native tree does not mean that the tree is more likely to be approved for removal. Each application is assessed on its merits.

How long does the process take?
Generally an assessment and determination is made in 5 to 10 days.

Does the Officer come out and can I make an appointment?
Council's Tree Management Officers always assess the trees on site. You may make an appointment, and should indicate that you wish to meet the officer on site, on the application form for approval of tree removal.

What happens when a decision is made?
Where permission is granted a permit will be sent to the applicant. Where the application is refused Council will send a letter to the applicant that outlines the reasons for refusal.

What can I do if I am unhappy with Council's decision?
If an application for work to a tree is refused, an appeal against the decision may be made to Council in writing outlining the reasons for seeking a review and attaching any other relevant information.

Upon receipt, a different officer from Council will review the appeal and previous application before organising an inspection of the tree in the presence of the applicant.

Following the inspection, a written response to the appeal will be forwarded to the applicant.
If after the initial review, the applicant is still unhappy with Council's decision, a written request may be made that the matter be placed before the elected members of Council.

In doing so, it is recommended that the request be supported with any relevant information including reports from arborists, structural engineers, plumbers etc.

Once Council has considered the matter at its meeting and resolved to either approve or refuse the appeal, a written response is forwarded to the applicant.

Who is responsible for the work?
Once approval has been obtained from Council for work to a tree, it is the responsibility of the applicant to organise the works. In selecting a contractor to carry out the works you should:

  • Obtain at least three quotes
  • Ask to see the contractor's Public Liability Insurance Policy ($10 million cover is now regarded as an industry minimum.)
  • Confirm that the contractor is a member of a professional association requiring its members to conform to a strict code of conduct, such as the National Arborists Association of Australia
  • Ask if the contractor is at least TAFE qualified or similar
  • Ask if they have knowledge of Council's Tree Preservation Order; The National Standard for the Pruning of Amenity Trees; and can comply with Council's requirements and conditions of approval.

What can I do if I want to prune a tree overhanging my property?
You may apply for a permit to prune that part of the tree overhanging the boundary. Council encourages you to first consult your neighbour about such matters.

What can I do if I want a neighbour to prune or remove a tree on their property/overhanging my property?
In the first instance, residents are advised to consult their neighbours about the problem.

The owner of the tree must be notified and written consent obtained before you may apply to Council for permission to prune or remove the tree.
If Council grants removal or pruning, the neighbour's consent must be obtained prior to any person entering the property to undertake work.
Sometimes a dispute may arise between neighbours about removal or pruning of a tree and who should pay the cost of this work. Council has no authority over neighbourly disputes and this is a matter between residents.

If you cannot resolve a dispute amicably, you should seek advice from the Community Justice Centre, a Chamber Magistrate, or alternatively your Solicitor.

Who pays for the work in this situation?
This is a matter to be negotiated between you and your neighbour. Council has no role in the determination of whether your neighbour or you should pay for the works if approved.

What can I do if I want a neighbour to prune or remove a tree on their property/overhanging my property?
In the first instance, residents are advised to consult their neighbours about the problem.

The owner of the tree must be notified and written consent obtained before you may apply to Council for permission to prune or remove the tree.

If Council grants removal or pruning, the neighbour's consent must be obtained prior to any person entering the property to undertake work.

Sometimes a dispute may arise between neighbours about removal or pruning of a tree and who should pay the cost of this work. Council has no authority over neighbourly disputes and this is a matter between residents.

If you cannot resolve a dispute amicably, you should seek advice from the Community Justice Centre, a Chamber Magistrate, or alternatively your Solicitor.

Who pays for the work in this situation?
This is a matter to be negotiated between you and your neighbour. Council has no role in the determination of whether your neighbour or you should pay for the works if approved.

What can I do if my neighbour has planted trees inappropriately and they are causing damage or inconvenience to me?
Council has no legal ability to control tree planting on private property, except where this is associated with a condition of development approval. If your neighbour's trees are causing or likely to cause damage to your property, and your neighbour is uncooperative, you should seek advice from Community Justice Centre, a Chamber Magistrate, or alternatively your solicitor.

How do I prune/remove trees?
All pruning should conform to the Australian Standard (AS 4373-1996, Pruning of Amenity Trees) and be undertaken by a professional arborist.

Who do I contact about trees on public land?
Council's Tree Management Team is responsible for the maintenance of trees located in Councils parks and reserves.
Similarly, other statutory authorities are responsible for their properties. These authorities are not exempt from the requirements of the Tree Preservation Order and require approval from Council prior to removing or lopping a tree.
For trees located on Council nature strips, please telephone the Parks and Trees Coordinator on 8752 1507 who will be able to assist with your concern.

What do I do if I think my tree is poisoned?
Please telephone the Parks and Trees Coordinator on 8752 1507.

Do Council's Tree Management Officers provide general advice on trees?
Council's Tree Management Officers only undertake inspections in relation to applications for removal or pruning of trees.
General arboricultural advice, assessments and recommendations would need to be arranged privately, with a consultant arborist.

What are the penalties for a breach of the Tree Preservation Order?
If you remove, damage or lop a tree without Council's consent, you may be liable for a fine.

Be aware that trees on public land, including nature strips are Council property.

You may also be liable to a penalty for engaging or allowing another person to remove, prune or lop a tree without Council's consent.

Any person found to have carried out ringbarking, cutting down, topping, lopping, removing, injuring or wilful destruction on any tree, without Council's approval is liable to incur significant fines.

Does Council provide free trees to residents?
Free trees are given to residents and ratepayers at the Ashfield Carnival of Cultures.

How can I obtain further information?
If you are unsure if you need Council consent or for further information please telephone Council's Parks and Trees Coordinator on 8752 1507.