Before you do any works around or to a tree, you will need to confirm the following:
You do NOT need approval to:
- Prune 10% or less of your tree's canopy (this can only be done once in a calendar year).
- Prune a branch from your tree which extends over the roof of a residence. Clearance pruning back to the gutter line of the residence is permissible.
- 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.
- After confirming the tree has not been identified as heritage significance, you can prune or remove any of these exempt trees without applying to Council.
RFS Bushfire Management: 10/50
The Rural Fire Services 10/50 Clearing Legislation allows property owners within the designated 10/50 clearing entitlement area to:
- Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home.
- Clear underlying vegetation (other than trees) such as shrubs on their property within 50 metres of a home.
The 10/50 clearing legislation only applies within designated 10/50 clearing entitlement areas. Visit the Rural Fire Service website to determine whether your property is classified under this legislation, and what conditions apply.
The 10/50 clearing legislation is administered by the Rural Fire Service. Property owners are required to contact RFS to confirm whether the rules apply to their land. All enquiries should be directed to the Rural Fire Service or RFS Bush Fire Information Line 1800 679 737.
Alternatively, if you are in a bushfire interface zone and have concerns for bushland areas surrounding your property, please call the Rural Fire Service directly on 9520 4040.
When you DO need to apply:
To prune or remove a tree on private property that does not fall into any of the exemption criteria, i.e. a protected tree.
What is a Protected tree?
- A single or multi trunked tree with a diameter of 100mm or more measured at 500mm above ground level.
- Any bushland vegetation, including mangroves. Bushland vegetation for the purpose of this clause means vegetation which is either remnant of the natural vegetation of the land or, if altered, is representative of the structure and the floristics of the natural vegetation. For the purposes of this sub-clause, bushland vegetation includes trees of any size, shrubs and all herbaceous species; and
- Any tree and/or riparian vegetation growing within 4 metres of a creek or watercourse.
Council will approve tree removal within 3 metres of a dwelling subject to a removal application being submitted.
If a tree is approved to be removed, Council requires replacement planting so that the canopy of Sutherland Shire can be maintained for future generations. Details of these requirements will be provided within the letter that provides a response to the tree inspection
Costs for applying to remove a tree/s
A fee applies to lodge an application to remove trees on your property:
- No fee if you are applying to prune a tree/s only.
- $170 per application (to remove up to 3 trees) - no fee pensioner discount can be applied to applications lodged at Council Administration office only.
Supporting documents can be attached with the online application.
Apply online for Tree Pruning Only on Private Property
Apply online for Tree Removal and/or Pruning on Private Property
Tree Inspection Process
A Tree Management Officer (TMO) will visit your property and inspect your tree/s. This usually takes up to 30 days. The Development Control Plan (DCP) outlines Council's assessment criteria when undertaking assessments. As part of this assessment, the TMO considers all the supporting documentation you provide. After the inspection, we may ask for more information.
When assessing your application, we consider whether the tree:
- has aesthetic, cultural, historic or ecological value Development Control Plan criteria
- is in good condition (for example, the health and structure)
- is in a suitable location in relation to existing buildings and conditions on the property
- is causing property damage
- is causing a nuisance to public land or private property owners
- falls within Greenweb or protected plant communities
- is affected by legislative requirements or conditions of development consent.
If your application is successful, we'll email or post your permit. Tree determinations are valid for 3 years from the letter issue date.
If you would like your tree determination reviewed, you need to apply in writing within 12 months of the original decision, and include additional information such as an arborist or engineer's report to support your review application, which will be assessed by a different member of the team.
A fee applies to lodge a review application to remove trees on your property:
- No fee if you are applying to review a pruning determination
- $170 per review application (to remove up to 3 trees) - 50% pensioner discount can be applied to applications lodged at Council Administration office
Alternatively, you can lodge an appeal with the NSW Land and Environment Court.
When tree removal is part of a Development Application
For some types of applications involving complying development or heritage you will receive a request for additional information.
Find out more about development in Sutherland Shire by clicking here
Larger areas of vegetation clearing, clearing in certain mapped locations, or clearing of threatened species or habitats, may meet certain thresholds for significant impacts on biodiversity and therefore trigger the need for an offset under the Biodiversity Offset Scheme. For more information, please visit https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/biodiversity/biodiversity-offsets-scheme
If you are proposing exempt or complying development which involves the removal or pruning of a tree, you need Council's consent for tree works prior to obtaining complying development consent or commencing exempt development works. You must include in your application for tree removal/pruning, formal plans that show the extent of the complying development works to be carried out.
Council will not permit the removal of a significant healthy tree or element of bushland where reasonable alternatives exist on site, or where the tree is of such significance that protection is warranted.
When tree pruning/removal has been approved, tree works can’t commence until the following is provided to the Council:
- A complying development certificate from your certifier.
- A notice of appointment of Principal Certifying Authority.
- A notice of commencement of works for the development.
If your application to prune/remove a tree/s for a complying or exempt development is not successful, you can lodge a development application for the proposed work. This allows your request to be considered in more detail, and allows approved works to be carried out in accordance with the conditions of your development consent.
Check your Tree Application Status
Track the status of an existing tree application
Using a Private (Consulting) Arborist
If you have specific concerns about a tree you may wish, at your own expense, to provide an arborist's report in support of your application. An Arborist Report prepared by a qualified and experienced (Consulting) Arborist will enable Council's assessment process to be expedited, with the cost of Council application with TRAQ report reduced to $35.00.
Council requires that you choose a (Consulting) Arborist who has:
Guidelines for an Arborist Report:
The following items must be addressed in the report:
- Who requested the report
- Why the report was requested
- What the report examines
- The address of the site containing the trees
- The methods or techniques used in the inspections, including completed TRAQ Form
- An abstract or synopsis of the inspection
- The date of the inspection
- A map of the site showing the exact location of the trees and the trees numbered to correspond with the text
- For each tree give the scientific name, common name, height, canopy spread, trunk diameter at breast height and form
- A discussion of the data collected. This may include detailed information regarding: wounds, cavities, cracks, splits, forking, root zone, pests and diseases within target zones.
- Supporting evidence such as photographs, where appropriate
- Do not list references unless they are referred to in the report
- Do not include data unless it is used in the report to lend weight to a relevant issue
- A discussion of all the options available using TRAQ matrices. Including: Why they are recommended or why they are not recommended? I.e. Can the building or structure be repaired and the tree retained?
- A recommendation as to the preferred option and the reasons therefore, representing how all other mitigating options have been exhausted before removal is recommended. Recommendation to align with residual risk outcomes using the TRAQ matrices.
- The report must also contain the Arborist, company and contact details including TRAQ Qualification Number of the person and company who prepared the report.
The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other site considerations necessary to ensure adequate information is supplied to Council.
Selecting an Arborist
Once you've received your determination to prune or remove a tree, here are some recommendations when engaging a practicing (Amenity) Arborist may assist:
- Pruning is critical to a tree's future health and structure and you should ensure you engage a skilled Arborist with a minimum qualification of AQF Level 3 in Arboriculture. Ask upfront for proof of qualification.
- All tree related work is completed in accordance to Australian Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees (2007).
- Tree removal needs to be undertaken safely for the preservation of both life and property.
- Ensure your selected Arborist or Tree Services Company is fully insured and can offer you up to date certificates for public liability, work cover, and professional indemnity.
- Anyone you engage to work on your property should be able to provide an ABN.
- It is recommended that full or final payment be provided only upon full completion of works as agreed. This may include removal or trunk or branches and/or stump grinding.
Council does not have a list of Arborists and cannot recommend particular Arborists. Current membership of a professional association, such as the Tree Contractors Association (TCA) and Arboriculture Australia is recommended. Council suggests you check the contractor's qualifications and insurances carefully before commencing a working relationship
More information is contained in the following:
Policies and documents
Tree removal or pruning on private property Trees on Private Property