Street Trees - On Council or Public Land

Street Trees

Street trees are one of the most important components of our urban spaces and we are committed to maintaining canopy cover in SutherlandShire.

Well planned and planted public areas will not only improve liveability in our communities, but will increase your property’s value, reduce your energy consumption costs all year round and satisfy a basic requirement to intercept sun reflecting off hard surfaces helping to reduce the urban heat island effect.

What is the urban heat island effect?

The Urban Heat Island effect is localised warming due to the increase in the large amounts of paved and dark coloured surfaces like roads, roofs, and car parks as a result of urban development. The sun’s heat is absorbed not reflected, and causes the surface and ambient temperatures to rise. Canopy trees provide shade and play a significant role in reducing the effects of urban heat on an area because unlike hard surfaces, trees and vegetation reflect heat and actively cool and clean the air. Every 10% increase in tree canopy cover can reduce land surface temperatures by 1.13 degrees Celsius.

Pruning and Removing Public Trees

Council is responsible for the pruning and removal of trees and other vegetation on public land, including parks and nature strips.

Request a tree to be assessed on public land

Trees are living things which age and are susceptibleto damage, disease and environmental factors such as extreme temperatures and storm events. Whilst tree removal is a last resort option, public safety is always a priority.

A tree assessment request will be allocated to a Tree Management Officer who will assess the tree/s and determine what action should be taken.

Council may prune or remove trees on Council land to:

  • Remove lower branches for pedestrian and vehicular access.
  • Remove deadwood and defective branches.
  • Remove branches that come in contact with adjoining buildings or structures.
  • Formative prune.
  • Root prune to prevent further damage to built structures.
  • Clear sight lines as per Roads and Maritime Services RMS requirements and signage.
  • Remove hazardous trees.

Council will not prune or remove trees on Council land to:

  • Improve or allow a view.
  • Allow solar access or for solar panel installation clearance.
  • Reduce leaf, bark and fruit fall.
  • Reduce sap and bird droppings.
  • Reduce release of pollen i.e.: allergies or asthma.
  • Deter insects or animals including bees and possums.
  • Top, lop or damage a tree in a way that contradicts the Australian pruning Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees (2007).
  • Remove trees if you consider them messy.
  • Remove trees that have been vandalised.
  • Prevent sewer pipe blockages.

Pruning and removal of trees

Tree roots, drains and pipes

Tree roots can sometimes inadvertently impact sewer and stormwater pipes. If tree roots are damaging or blocking your stormwater or sewer pipes, it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the infrastructure and services to their dwelling.

If you have blocked or damaged sewer or stormwater pipes which are old earthenware or clay pipes may have deteriorated, cracked or be leaking at the joints due to age, Council does not accept liability for this type of damage or tree root entry if the pipes were cracked or leaking.

If the above is not the case, you need to provide evidence to Council that the Council street tree has overtly caused the damage to your property while the tree roots are exposed.

Assessment of this nature can be done via a plumber’s report with accompanying photos and measurements of where the issue exists in the pipe, and Council should be called to inspect the situation before any rectification work.

Trees, buildings and other structures

Buildings can sometimes be damaged by tree roots, but there may be a number of factors why a building may start to show signs of damage. It's important to have an expert provide advice to establish the cause of a problem, and how it can be resolved.

For example, if tree roots are cracking your front fence or path it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain ancillary structures and the infrastructure within their own property.


Storm Damaged Trees

Request a tree to be assessed on public land

In storm events and emergency situations please call the SES on their 24 hour helpline on 13 25 00 to report any storm damaged trees.

If a street tree has caused damage to your property as a result of a storm, report this to Council and a Tree Management Officer will come to assess the situation.

Storm damage claims need to be made through your own Car or Household Insurance.

Allergies from Trees

If you are concerned that a street tree may be the cause of your allergy symptoms, you will be required to provide supporting evidence to identify the tree as the cause of your reaction. Medical certificates from General Practitioners will not be accepted as a valid claim for tree removal. Approval will not be granted, even with a verified medical certificate, where this tree is one many of the same species in the street, because removal of a single tree may not alleviate the cause of the allergy.
Tree removal will only be considered under the following criteria:

Trees that are removed for allergy reasons are subject to replacement conditions using alternative locally indigenous species.

Preferred suppliers for Tree Work in the Public Domain

Where Council has provided approval via development consent for a tree on the road reserve to be pruned/removed, the applicant needs to contact both or either of the organisations listed below for a quote and to schedule works to be undertaken.

The following suppliers are the only authorised tree companies able to work on Council trees through the Preferred Supplier Tendering process.  Preferred Suppliers are aware of their obligation to ensure the tree has been approved for removal or pruning.  

Treeserve - 9620 2060

Treescape - 0477 224 555

Services they provide include: tree pruning/removal, stump grinding, root severance, surface root grinding and root barrier installation.

The applicant is responsible for contract management and payment to the Preferred Suppliers. Penalties apply for unauthorised work on Council land. 


Other Relevant Policies and documents


More information



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