Trees and vegetation on public land
Council encourages the planting of trees and shrubs near footpaths and nature strips. There are a few simple rules.
In storms and emergency situations please call the State Emergency Services on their 24hr helpline 13 25 00 to report tree damage.
Trees and vegetation are protected under legislation and planning policies. You will need a permit from Council to:
Remove or prune a tree that is 4 or more metres in height and/or has a crown spread of more than 4 metres.
Remove or prune any mallee formed Eucalyptus species, irrespective of size.
Clear natural vegetation or regenerating indigenous vegetation including shrubs and ground layer vegetation.
Clear vegetation affected by a complying development certificate.
Remove trees or clear vegetation within a heritage conservation area, on heritage listed properties and on land which an Aboriginal object is located or the land is an Aboriginal place of heritage significance.
There are exemptions. Read on to find out more.
Exemptions are in place so that backyards are free from weeds and hazards.
Exemptions are listed in:
You will need to read these documents to ensure that the removal and / or pruning works meets the criteria. The Rural Fire Services (RFS) 10/50 scheme also allows property owners to clear trees within 10 metres of a home or underlying vegetation (other than trees) such as shrubs within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval. These rules only apply if the land is identified as being eligible.
Vegetation that is shown for removal on an approved plan issued as part of a development consent will not require a separate permit.
Always keep a record of any clearing activity on your property. Take photos of the vegetation beforehand. If you are using a contractor, document your instructions and supervise clearing activity. Evidence may be required to confirm the exemption. If photos are not adequate you may need a declaration from a third party. If you are relying on the 10/50 scheme to clear land always retain a copy of the search result for your records.
If you would like to prune or remove a tree or vegetation, first check the exemptions. If the works are not exempt, you will need to complete an application form. Most applications are assessed under the permit system. If the works are associated with a heritage item and are not minor then you will need to lodge a development application.
Application forms must have owner authorisation. Boundary trees will need authority from both owners. A body corporate or a managing agent must supply evidence of authority to act.
The application form outlines the supporting material that will need to be lodged. At times, more information may be requested. This can include an Arborist report, a replacement planting schedule, etc. Applications are usually assessed within 28 days. Fees are based on the number of trees / per property. Permits are valid for up to 12 months.
Council has no authority to act in disputes between neighbours. It is always best to talk to your neighbours first. Even if you are only pruning less than 10% of overhanging tree branches. If the works are not exempt then follow the application process above. If your neighbour does not agree to remove or prune a tree, you can contact the Community Justice Centre for mediation assistance. If your neighbour’s tree is damaging your property and the above methods have not worked you will need to seek your own legal advice. You can take action under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act.
Fines may be issued for unlawful clearing of vegetation. We may also investigate and prosecute more serious vegetation clearing offences. A contractor can also be fined even if they are acting under the owner’s authority. Make sure that you receive or sight the permits before you start. Don’t risk it. If in any doubt, phone and talk to a customer service advisor.