Tree pruning or removal

A man prunes some branches on a tree with some loppers.

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

Some activities, such as routine maintenance, removal of dead or dying vegetation, risk reduction, fire safety, and weed removal, are exempt from approval.

A list of exemptions and definitions can be found in Council's Vegetation Protection Development Control Plan(PDF, 681KB).

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.

Do I need a tree removal permit or a development application?

If you don't need a development application, you still need to fill out a tree removal/prune application form to remove or prune trees on a property.

However, if a development application is necessary, the Vegetation Protection DCP outlines the required information.

If the property is a heritage item or within a heritage conservation precinct, a DA is also necessary.

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. Contact the North Coast Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or

Everywhere else

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

Protecting biodiversity

Depending on the location and potential impact on native vegetation and threatened species, an ecologist's report may be required as part of a development application. If the proposed clearing is on land marked on the Biodiversity Values Map or exceeds the threshold for clearing in the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS), you will need to hire an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR). 

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 & 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 (02) 6625 0500. This includes street trees, bushland trees and trees located within parks and reserves.

For more information read the Development Control Plan Chapter 14(PDF, 681KB).