Information about the pruning and removal of trees on private and public land

Council has a Development Control Plan (DCP) that is designed to make sure we retain healthy and significant vegetation in our community as well as protecting wildlife habitat and biodiversity values.

Do I need an approval to remove trees or other vegetation on my property?

There are a range of exempt activities that do not require any approval from Council. These include routine maintenance, the removal of dead or dying vegetation, removing risk to life or property, fire safety, weed removal etc. A table outlining all exemptions and the relevant definitions is located on pages 9-10 of Council’s Vegetation Protection Development Control Plan (DCP).

What if it’s not exempt?

Rural Land - If you are on rural land (Zone RU1 or RU2) it is the responsibility of the landowner to contact NSW Local Land Services to determine if proposed works require a permit. The contact details for North Coast Local Land Services are:
Ph: 1300 795 299 or Email: admin.northcoast@lls.nsw.gov.au

Everywhere else – If the exemptions do not apply and you are not on rural land (Zone RU1 or RU2), approval from Council is required.

A tree removal permit or a development application?

If the proposed vegetation removal is NOT for the purpose of an activity that requires development consent (such as the construction of a building or the subdivision of land etc.), a tree removal application form is available on Council’s website.  

If a development application (DA) is required, the information to be provided with the DA is outlined in Council’s Vegetation Protection DCP.  Please note, if the property is listed as a heritage item or is within a heritage conservation precinct, a DA will be required.

Can I prune my neighbour's trees?

Your neighbour's trees can only be pruned if you have consent. You can apply to prune roots and overhanging branches of your neighbour's trees if they are causing damage to your property or are likely to. Firstly, go and have a chat to your neighbour and see if you can work the issue out together.


Protecting Biodiversity

Depending on the location and the likely impact on native vegetation and threatened species, a report from an ecologist may be required with your development application. If proposed clearing is on land included on the Biodiversity Values Map or exceeds the threshold for clearing in the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS), you will need to engage an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR). A list of accredited assessors can be found here.

What penalties apply?

Penalties for pruning or removing a tree or trees are severe. A $1500 on-the-spot fine can be issued or more serious cases can be taken to the Land and Environment Court, where a much larger penalty is likely.
Council can also ask for new tree planting or remedial pruning.

Trees on public land

If you have any enquiry about trees on public land you should call us on 1300 87 83 87. This includes street trees, bushland trees and trees located within parks and reserves.

For more information read the Development Control Plan Chapter 14.