How To Get Council Approval To Remove A Tree

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Our clients often ask us whether it’s possible to cut down a tree without getting council approval. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question.

Whether or not you can remove a tree without approval will depend on the specific LGA or council area you live in, or where your business or organisation is based. It’s essential to check the rules of your council and to obtain any necessary approvals prior to starting the process to remove a tree, even if you’ve gone through a similar process with a different tree in the past. It’s always much better to be safe than sorry. After all, nobody wants to get stuck with a nasty fine that they could have avoided by simply checking with their local council.

Here are some tips to help you check whether you need tree removal approval and to guide you through the application process:

Legally remove a tree in the backyard without council approval

General exclusions from council approval

Most councils in NSW, including Bayside, Georges River, Wollongong and Sutherland Shire, will always require you to gain council approval to prune or remove a tree, unless:

  • The tree is very small, both in height and width, or;
  • The species is considered to be a weed
  • If your property is in a 10/50 vegetation clearing fire risk zone.

We don’t recommend playing guessing games with these parameters! You should visit your council’s Preservation Orders (TPOs) and Local Environment Plans (LEPs) for guidance and contact the council directly to determine whether or not your tree is safe to remove without approval. You can also visit our tree removal resources for specific local council tree management information and to determine if you’re in a 10/50 zone.

How to apply to your local council to remove a tree

For most LGAs in Sydney and the Illawarra, applying to remove a tree on your property will be a fairly straightforward process. Most councils will approve your request so long as you have a valid reason to do so.While these reasons differ from suburb to suburb and council to council, some useful rule of thumb reasons that are often approved by councils tend to include:

  • If a tree has fallen
  • If the tree is dead or dying
  • If it is a safety risk to people or property, including a fire risk
  • If the tree is small and is preventing the construction of a boundary fence.

With that said, councils tend NOT to approve a request to remove a tree if:

  • The reason is purely aesthetic – for example, if you don’t like the look of a tree in your yard or on your premises
    Just because it obstructs a view
  • If the reason for removal is due to falling leaves
  • If the tree is on a protected or conservation list due to its species, location, size, or if it is deemed to be culturally significant.

The process for applying for a permit

1. Check if you need a permit

Determine your local council’s rules around tree removal, and the unique set of regulations and laws in that jurisdiction. You may discover that you don’t need approval. In which case you’re ready to move straight to Step 4.

2. Start your application

The next step will be collating all the key information your council needs to process your application. You may have to answer questions about the tree’s size, condition, species, and location. Many tree removal applications will also require an Arborist Report to verify that this information is accurate, while providing a more in-depth analysis of the tree and tree works proposed.

3. Submit

Next it’s time to submit your completed form and report, which may incur a processing fee. You may need to wait anywhere from a couple of days to weeks for approval.

4. Book in your tree works

Only once you’ve received council approval should you book in your tree work. Once your approval is sorted, you can sit back, relax and let your qualified arborists take care of the rest!

Ready to get your garden in Tip Top shape? Tip Top Tree Services are here to help! Our team of expert arborists and tree specialists are compliant, fast and safe, and get the job done with a smile. Get in touch today to find natural and affordable ways to bring your garden vision to life.

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