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Private Trees

 

Pruning or Removing Trees

Trees are a key ingredient to the visual quality of our area. They improve air quality, help counter extremes of temperature, protect soil and water supplies, provide habitat for wildlife and act as extensions and links between our bushland.

To preserve trees, Council has developed Tree Preservation Regulatory Controls which aim to retain as many healthy trees as possible. The Order requires you to obtain Council's permission to cut down, reshape, or lop any tree over a height exceeding 4 metres, with a trunk diameter greater than 150mm (measured at 1 metre above the ground). There are some exceptions, which are outlined in the Tree Preservation Regulatory Controls

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ON PERMITS

10/50 Entitlement Areas

Residents are being encouraged to check the NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) website for information on entitlement areas in Lane Cove for the 10/50 Vegetation Code.

The easiest way to work out if you're covered by the eligible area is checking the RFS website online tool at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing. The tool contains the latest information on areas covered by the rule.

Trees to that are not covered by the 10/50 legislation require Council approval and a valid Council-issued permit.

Do you need a permit to trim or remove trees on your own land?

Yes you do need a permit.  You cannot prune or cut down a tree that is greater than 4 metres without a permit from Lane Cove Council. The regulations for the preservation of trees differ slightly from Council to Council, so you and your arborist must check Lane Cove’s Tree Preservation Regulations first.

Council has adopted a Fast Track system for certain trees above 4 metres. The Fast track application system is in place for trees over 4 metres in height that fall within one of the exempt categories listed in section B of the Tree Preservation Regulatory Controls. The permit application will be processed free of charge and does not require inspection. It does require you to provide a clear photograph of the subject tree/s. The permit will be issued within one (1) week. 

For all trees, a permit must be obtained by completing a Tree Inspection Application Form.

Do you need a permit if the tree is dead?

You still need to get a permit to remove a dead tree. It could be a deciduous tree or one that looks dead but has only temporarily lost its leaves. However, you can prune dead branches from living trees without a permit.

What if you are only taking off 10% or the tree is within 3 metres of the house?

You still need a permit. Lane Cove Council does not have exemptions for these situations.

What is the cost and how do you apply?

For all trees over 4 metres, you need to fill in a Tree Inspection Application Form and pay the relevant fee.

The fee varies depending on whether the application is to prune or remove a tree and the number of trees.

Pensioners do not have to pay the fee.

Trees that fall within the specific exemptions listed in Section B of the Tree Preservation Regulatory Controls do not require payment of a fee but do require the submission of the Tree Inspection Application Form including a photograph of the subject tree/s. You must tick the "Fast Track" option on the form if you are applying for works under a Fast Track exemption. If the application does not fall within the Fast Track exemptions you will be notified and will have to pay the relevant fee if you wish for the application to be assessed and a permit issued.

The Credit Card Payment Form is attached to the application form.

What is the process once you have submitted the application?

All applications that fall within the specific exemptions listed in Section B of the trial tree preservation controls will be fast tracked and a permit issued within one (1) week.

For all other applications, it typically takes 2 weeks between the lodgement of the application (including payment of the fee) and the inspection. It can take a little longer if there is a greater than usual number of applications submitted. A written response is sent usually within a 1 week of the inspection.

How long are the permits valid?

Permits are valid for 12 months. A request to extend is usually granted if it is made within a short period of the date of expiry.*

REVIEW OF DECISIONS

What if I am unhappy with Council's decision regarding my trees?

Should an applicant not be satisfied with the original decision regarding their tree application, they can request a review of the determination by submitting an Application for Review of the Tree Determination. This is to be accompanied by a $71 fee to lodge with Council. The review process is undertaken by Council’s Senior Tree Assessment Officer. You may wish to submit more information than provided with your original application to support your case.

What if I am still unhappy with Council's decision?

If an applicant is still not satisfied they can lodge a formal appeal with Council. Council has engaged an Independent Tree Review Expert Arbiter (ITREA) to act as an arbiter in tree matters where aggrieved residents are not satisfied with Council’s assessment. The cost to apply for this service is $271.00 excluding any additional costs for extra site visits, research, etc. Additional costs will be shared on a 50/50 basis between Council and the applicant. An Independent Tree Review Application can be submitted for this service.

SPECIFIC CONCERNS ABOUT TREES

Pruning of tree branches within 3 metres of electric powerlines

If a tree on private property is interfering with power lines it is the property owners' responsibility. If work is required you should contact Ausgrid to use one of their approved contractors. Ausgrid own the electric powerlines up to the junction on the fascia boards of your house or with a private pole.

Any tree work within 3m of these powerlines must be done by Ausgrid approved contractors. Phone 13 15 35 or visit www.ausgrid.com.au/treetrimming.

Concerned about the health and stability of a tree?

You should submit an Application Form as soon as possible.

If the situation has arisen from a storm event or similar occurring during the week, and the tree is substantial, Council Officers will try to inspect the tree as soon as possible, while the tree’s owner is submitting the application form.

If it is a weekend emergency, contact SES on 13 25 00 for assistance.

If electrical lines are involved, contact Ausgrid on 13 13 88 (Emergency only).

Particular safety concerns for trees on private land:

Where a member of the public has raised safety concerns relating to a tree on private property an application may be made to prune or remove a tree solely on the grounds of safety, where there is a preventable and foreseeable risk of harm to persons or property where such tree is within close proximity to structures and/or prime active use areas.

Such application shall include supporting evidence to substantiate the safety grounds, including:-

a) Evidence of a dropped significant living limb/branch (minimum 75mm diameter); or

b) Numerous drops of large living tree parts (minimum 40mm diameter branches, pods etc); or

c) Visible cracking/splitting on the tree which could cause result in falling branches.

Applications received relating to the safety of a tree will be assessed using a Visual Tree Inspection (VTA) and Quantified Tree Risk Assessment (QTRA).

In the event of such an application being rejected, if the applicant provides a written report from two (2) independent, registered and certified Level 5 arborists supporting the application, Council shall review permission to prune or remove the tree based on the evidence before them and will base judgement solely on the safety of the tree.

Alternatively applicants have the option of applying for a review of the initial application by a Senior Tree Preservation Officer without two Arborist reports and if the review is rejected they may proceed to an independent assessment via ITREA.

Concerned about trees dropping leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds?

The NSW Land and Environment Court has established the following principle regarding leaf and fruit drop from trees. Council applies this principle when assessing applications to remove or prune trees:

For people who live in urban environments, it is appropriate to expect that some degree of house exterior and ground maintenance will be required in order to appreciate and retain the aesthetic and environmental benefits of having trees in such an urban environment. In particular, it is reasonable to expect people living in such an environment might need to clean the gutters and surrounds of their houses on a regular basis.

The dropping of leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds or small elements of deadwood by urban trees ordinarily will not provide the basis for the removal of or intervention in an urban tree.

Concerned about trees causing allergies?

In special circumstances where a Medical Doctor who specialises in allergies provides Council with a letter stating that the tree that the application relates to has a significant impact on the resident’s health, and provided the applicant agrees to replace the tree with an appropriate indigenous tree or the like to Council’s satisfaction on the applicant’s premises, then approval will be issued for the removal of the tree.*

Pruning trees for views or solar access?

You can apply to prune a tree if the tree is on your property. Council cannot give you permission to prune a tree on a neighbour’s property.

Council does not allow pruning of large sections of trees to improve solar access or for views. Excessive pruning can be hazardous to a tree and pre-dispose branches to become more susceptible to failure. A tree will also naturally produce new growth to compensate for the loss of foliage, which is likely to result in increased foliage density and create a greater problem in terms of blocking sunlight or views.

If a resident wants a tree on public land – street trees and trees in parks – to be pruned to maintain an existing view or to improve solar access, then Council staff will assess the application. Any works to be carried out on these trees will be at the applicant’s cost.

Tree roots blocking sewer and stormwater pipes?

Tree roots generally do not cause damage to pipes. Tree roots enter pipes at a point of fracture, in other words, if the pipe is broken roots will take advantage of the available water and air. Tree roots are opportunistic: they are not invasive or aggressive.

Research has shown that tree roots will not interfere with sewer or stormwater drainage pipes, provided they are maintained in good condition. Roots will not enter intact pipes and drains by force, unless the tree has been planted immediately on top of them. However, the roots will, if encountering an already cracked pipe, be attracted by the moisture leaking from the pipe and may enter the pipe.

Underground pipes, particularly those constructed of terra cotta, will break down with age, unless properly maintained. soil pressure may cause general cracking, and rubber or cement seals will inevitably perish or crack with age, causing leaking at joints and increasing the vulnerability of the system.

Sewer and stormwater drainage pipes which run between a property and Sydney Water's sewer main, or to some other discharge point, belong to the owners of the property in question. It is the responsibility of each property owner to maintain the pipe in good condition, so that the abovementioned deterioration does not occur.

It is considered that repair or renewal of aged infrastructure can occur without the need to remove all nearby vegetation.

Property damage caused by tree roots?

Roots from trees can cause damage to fences and retaining walls, paths and driveways. However, it is considered that the removal of trees is a last resort option and only when all other options have been considered.

Council does not consider lifted pavers or damage to a fence as a reason to remove a healthy tree, as such damage can be repaired without requiring the removal of a healthy tree.

Tree Disputes between Neighbours

In the interests of maintaining a good relationship with your neighbours it best that you maintain your garden so that it doesn’t impact on your neighbours. Discuss with them what plants you have near boundaries that they would prefer not hang over their property is the best way to start. If you need to do pruning remember you need their permission if you need to go onto their property. Also, remember that once a tree exceeds 4 metres, with a trunk diameter greater than 150mm (measured at 1 metre above the ground) (unless it is a noxious plant), you must seek approval from Council before you can trim or remove it.

If your neighbour does complain to you about an overhanging branch, as the matter is a civil matter, it must be resolved between you.

In 2007, the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (the Trees Act) came into effect. The Act is administered by the NSW Land and Environment Court. The aim of the Act is to deal with neighbour tree disputes justly, quickly and cheaply. The Act also

Reference material which can assist applicants and tree owners in understanding how the Court deals with such applications is available.

 

TREES AND HEDGES ON NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES

Disputes between Neighbours

In the interests of good relationships with your neighbours it is best if you maintain your garden so that it doesn’t impact adversely on them. If you need to prune any overhanging vegetation, remember you need their permission to go onto their property. If you choose to plant a hedge try to choose dwarf species or maintain the hedge height so it does not impose on your neighbour.

Council does not get involved in disputes between neighbours about trees or hedges unless specifically directed by the Land and Environment Court under Section 17 of The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 as disputes between neighbours are a civil matter.

The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (the Trees Act) is administered by the NSW Land and Environment Court and aims to deal with neighbour tree and high hedge disputes justly, quickly and cheaply. Hedges above 2.5m and trees are both covered under the Act, including Leighton Green trees.

Reference material is available to assist applicants and tree owners in understanding how the Court deals with such applications.

Trees on development sites

Requests for the removal of trees for exempt or complying development are assessed under the Tree Preservation Controls. Each tree is assessed on its own merits and the Tree Assessment Officer does not take into consideration any development under the Exempt and Complying Development Code. Council recommends that anyone considering such a development engages a reputable Level 5 Consulting Arborist (AQF5) to advise them regarding the trees.

Trees approved for removal during the Development Application assessment do not require a separate permit under the Tree Preservation Controls for removal. Standard Conditions of Consent include street tree protection including cash bond, tree protection zones with temporary fencing and warning signs, etc.

Request for removal of any tree that is required to be retained as a Condition of Consent as part of an approved DA are not dealt with under the Tree preservation Controls. Such Conditions of Consent may only be changed through the process of a Section 96 Application under the EP&A Act.

Driveway crossings

Construction of new driveway crossings or driveway upgrades has the potential to seriously damage the root system of existing street trees. Driveway crossing applications are managed by Council’s Urban Services, however Council’s Tree Assessment Officers also have input into driveway locations in proximity to street trees to ensure street trees are not damaged. Council does not generally support the removal of street trees for driveway crossings unless there are no other options. Street trees with strong visual amenity qualities that contribute to the streetscape and/or trees on Council’s Significant Tree Register shall not be considered for removal to accommodate driveway crossings.

 

WHO DOES THE WORK?

 

Tree Work: Contractor Insurance, Qualifications & Job Safety and other FAQ's ​

Click here for Tree Work: Frequently Asked Questions

Further information can be obtained by contacting the following organisations:

  • Workcover's Rural Industry Team: 1800 300 377 or 8882 4235 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

  • The Tree Contractors Association of Australia: 1300 660 379 or www.tcaa.com.au.

  • The Local Government Tree Resources Association www.lgtra.com.