Access to Fire Trails or Reserves

Why do I need to apply for a licence?

Council has many fire trails and reserves spread across the Sutherland Shire. 

Many of our parks and reserves contain natural bushland of high ecological value, which provides critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.  Many of our parks are in urban settings, making protection of this habitat even more important.   Our parks and reserves are for the enjoyment of all our residents.

Fire trails play an important part in ensuring firefighters can access fires and safely contain them. They are also used to assist with management of bush fire risk across the landscape.  To assist with containing and managing fires across the landscape, firefighters need good access. 

Council’s Open Space Assets Unit is the custodian of our parks and reserves and oversees fire trails on behalf of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The application process for access to fire trails or reserves not only ensures that our parks and reserves remain undamaged and are safe environments for all, but ensures that fire trails remain accessible to the Rural  Fire Service (RFS) in times of need.

When will my application be approved?

Council does not automatically grant approval to fire trails or reserves.

You will require permission from Council in the form of a licence to access a fire trail or Council reserve for any of the following reasons:  Gaining access to private property, sewerage connection, access for excavator, removal of dead trees, fence maintenance, or performing building works.  You should not engage contractors until approval has been given for your access request.  You may be required to submit further information or documentation to support your application and you will not be able to carry out works until this new information has been assessed and your application has been approved.

An Application for Access across Fire Trails and Reserves form must be completed and submitted to Council for consideration, together with evidence of public liability insurance indemnifying Council for $20 million.

Council will only approve access over fire trails or reserves where:

  1. It can be clearly demonstrated that no other alternative for access is feasible.
  2. The risk to users of the park or reserve and assets/ infrastructure located within the park or reserve,can be mitigated to a level we determine to be acceptable.
  3. You have provided all required information and plans as requested by us, which may include (but is not limited to):
  • Traffic / Pedestrian Access Management Plans
  •  Site Safety Plan
  • Tree/Vegetation Protection Plans
  • Dust Management Plans
  • Evidence of sufficient public liability insurance of contractors (Certificate of Currency)
  • Copies of licences held for plant and equipment, white cards
  • Details of site contact/Supervisor

4.     If the reserve is Crown Land, you must have already obtained permission from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (see "Fire Trails Vehicle Access" below).

5.     You may be required to attend a pre-access site condition inspection of the reserve with one of our Open Space Assets Officers.

6.     You have entered into a Community Land Short Term Licence (the "Licence") with Council This is a legal agreement which sets out details of the conditions under which approval has been given, and indemnifies Council against any loss, damage, injury or death caused or contributed to by the Applicant and/or its Authorised Persons.

7.     A refundable bond has been paid to Council by the Applicant of a value determined by us based on a risk assessment (between $300 to $5,200 (individually assessed). Any additional costs above the bond value incurred in rectifying damages caused as a result of access will be invoiced to the Applicant as a debt recoverable by us.

8.     Fencing of the reserve (if required) shall be installed at the Applicant’s expense and cannot be removed or temporarily dismantled without the express permission of Council.

Please allow a minimum of four weeks for the application process.

Application and licence fees apply.

Parks or Reserves Vehicle Access

Access through a park or reserve that does not contain a fire trail will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where there is no other reasonable alternative access.

The park or reserve must be on Council land. Please first ascertain this by using Shire Maps and selecting the Property Register layer.  The access route must be on red or blue hatched land (Council land).

Access route information Shire Maps

If the area is not on Council land you will need to seek permission from the relevant landowner.

Fire Trails Vehicle Access

Access for vehicles on fire trails is permitted for building work only.

Before applying, check the access route is on a fire trail and on Council land.  You can do this by checking Shire Maps and selecting the Property Register layer and the RFS Fire Trails layer.  The access route must be on red or blue hatched land (Council land) and on a red line (fire trail).

Access route information Shire Maps

If the area is not on Council land you will need to seek permission from the relevant landowner.

For all access requests through Crown Land not managed by Council, your first step is to acquire a licence from Crown Lands NSW by contacting them as follows:

Crown Lands Business Centre
T 1300 886 235


A PO Box 2215, Dangar, NSW, 2309


There is a fee for this licence, paid to Crown Lands. 

Once you have obtained your licence from Crown Lands, please make an application to access the reserve via our standard application process.  

A standard fee will apply for the licence application and a bond will be charged.


There are three fees that you will need to pay. Fees are as set out in Council’s 2020/21 Schedule of Fees and Charges.

These fees are reviewed annually.

Application Fee (non-refundable)

Application fee - $170

Applications will not be considered until the application administration fee is paid.  This fee covers Council Officers' time to consider the matter and, if supported, submit a report to Council for consideration.

Licence Fees (non-refundable)

1-5 day access licences - $221
5-90 day access licences - $735


Asset protection bond - $300 to $5,200 (individually assessed)

How is the bond decided?

The bond is determined by the assessor on a case-by-case basis.  The amount of the bond charged depends on the potential for damage that may occur as a result of the activity. The bond also takes into consideration the risks associated with the work.

Bond Refund

An inspection will be carried out by an Open Space Assets Officer to ensure there has been no damage to the fire trail or reserve including gates and fencing.

Provided no damage has occurred, your bond will be refunded within two weeks of the end of works following an inspection by an Open Space Assets Officer.  If keys have been issued you must return them prior to the release of your bond. Please return keys to Council’s Administration Building, 4-20 Eton Street, Sutherland or posted to:

Attention: Open Space Assets Unit

Sutherland Shire Council

Locked Bag 17


Your bond will be refunded electronically.  You will need to complete an EFT Payment Application form before we can refund your bond.

Public Liability Insurance

If you wish to apply for a licence you must have public liability insurance to the value of $20 million.  A copy of the Certificate of Currency will be required upon application.  Failure to supply the Certificate of Currency at the time of application will delay your application.


  •  Please apply 3 to 4 weeks before you require access.  An application fee of $170.00 is payable at the time of applying.  You can bring your application, payment and required documentation to Council's Customer Service Centre or send by post with a cheque to Sutherland Shire Council, Locked Bag 17, Sutherland, 1499.
  • Please ensure you have all the required information at the time of application to avoid delays.  
  • The person undertaking the activity must have public liability insurance to the value of $20 million. Your application will not be approved without providing evidence of this insurance.  
  • If approved, you will be required to pay a licence fee and a bond.  Any keys required will be provided by Council.  These keys must be returned when works have been completed to receive your bond.

Apply for access to a fire trail or reserve

My application has been approved – what happens next?

An Officer from the Open Space Assets Unit will contact you to advise whether or not your application has been approved.  If approved, we will ask you to attend Council in person to sign a Licence. 

If your request is for access to a fire trial, we will contact the RFS to make arrangements for access to the fire trail gate.  If your request is for access to a reserve, Council will issue you a key, if required, when you sign the Licence.  A copy of your driver’s licence must be provided at the time the key is picked up.


The governing legislation is Clause 116 Leases, licences and other estates in respect of community land of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).




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More information


Application to Access Fire Trail or Reserve



Access to Fire Trail or Reserve

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