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Frequently Asked Questions


​ Can I prune up to 10% off my tree without Council permission?

No, you will need to seek Council permission.


 Can I prune or remove my neighbours tree?

Yes, but you will need to seek Council permission to prune or remove a tree (including hedges) on a neighbouring property. Firstly, you require the owner's consent in writing which will accompany the Private Tree Inspection Application online. Pruning must be done within Council guidelines. Council does not grant you or a contractor permission to enter a neighbouring property.


 Can I remove a tree within 3m of my house?

No, you will need to seek Council permission.


 Can I remove a dead tree?

Yes, Council will need to inspect it first to make sure it is not deciduous.


 What is the process once you have submitted the application?​

All applications that fall within the specific exemptions listed in Section B of the Tree Preservation Controls will be fast tracked and a permit issued within one (1) week – pending availability of applicant.

For all other applications, it typically takes two (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.


 Is there a fee involved?

For all trees over 4 metres, you need to fill in an online Private Tree Inspection Application 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 an online Private Tree Inspection Application including a photograph of the subject tree/s. If the application is not a specific tree species exemption 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.


 What about pruning of branches within 3m of power lines?

If a tree on private property is interfering with power lines it is the property owner's 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 their website.


 I'm concerned about the health and stability of a tree.

You should submit an online Private Tree Inspection Application 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).


 I'm concerned about the safety of my tree.

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.


 My tree drops too many leaves.

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.


 Can I prune to get more light into my property?

You can apply to prune a tree if the tree is on your property or on your neighbours property but Council requires the written consent of the neighbour. 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.


 My tree keeps blocking my 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 above-mentioned deterioration does not occur.

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



 My tree is lifting my garden path and damaging my fence.

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.


 Can I change the location of my driveway?

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.