Trees on Private Land
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Trees on Private Land

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There is no law regarding what a property owner can plant on their own property. However, Council strongly recommends careful consideration to ensure selection of a tree that is appropriate to the site. Please download the PDF IconTree Selection Factsheet here.

It's worth considering that the right tree in the right place can provide shade and colour, screen unsightly views, frame pleasant views, provide habitat for birds and animals, provide shelter for other plants, reduce temperatures around homes and other buildings on hot days, reduce mowing maintenance, provide clean filtered air, regulate the water table, control erosion and increase the value of a property.

Depending upon species selection and soil type, trees should never be planted too close to a house and other buildings.  As a general rule a tree should not be planted within 1.5 metres of any property boundary, or within 3 metres of any building, or even further away, depending on the species selected to allow for sufficient canopy and root development. 

The Grow Local: Illawarra Native Garden Guide also provides advice on appropriate local native species.

Click on the headings below to see more information about trees on private land.​

Permits for Pruning and Removal

Council has adopted a Tree Management Policy which aims to prevent unlawful or unnecessary removal, pruning or destruction of trees in the Wollongong local government area.  This Policy is enforced through clause 5.9 of Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009.

Trees that require a permit

​Council requires either Development Consent or a Tree Management Permit for tree removal or pruning if your tree:
  • is three metres or more in height and/or
  • has a trunk diameter of 200mm or more at a height of one metre from the ground and/or
  • has a branch spread of three metres or more.
  • is dead/dying and meets the one of the three criteria listed above
  • or for the pruning of major structural/anchor roots.
For more information, see 'How do I apply for a Tree Management Permit?' below.
 
For more information regarding tree removal consent as part of a development proposal, go to our Trees and Development page.

Trees or works that do not require a permit

​A Tree Management Permit is not required for removal or pruning of the following:

  • Where a tree is included in Council’s Exempt Tree Species List. This excludes trees within the curtilage of the heritage item or heritage conservation area.
  • Where a tree is declared a noxious weed in the Wollongong Local Government Area under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993, or any management plan published by the Illawarra District Noxious Weeds Authority.
  • Where a tree has been approved for removal or management action under a Development Consent.
  • Bushfire hazard reduction work, authorised by the NSW Rural Fire Service under the Rural Fires Act 1997.
  • Where action is required or authorised in accordance with the Electricity Supply Act 1995, the Roads Act 1993, the Surveying and Spatial Information Act 2002, the Telecommunications Act 1997 or the Sydney Water Act 1994, or any other NSW statutory authority.
  • Where action is carried out by Council, State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service, or another infrastructure authority/emergency service authority in response to an emergency (ie where there is an immediate threat of injury to persons or damage to property).
  • Any works to make safe a tree where there is an immediate threat of injury to persons or damage to property, either during or within 48 hours following a severe weather event.  Refer to Council’s Dangerous Tree Procedure below for details. 
  • Where the works are undertaken by Council or a contractor acting on behalf of Council on Council owned or controlled public land, including but not limited to lands within a sportsground, park, reserve, road reserve, or riparian corridor.

How do I apply for a Tree Management Permit?

​There are two options to apply for a Tree Management Permit: 
 
Option 1 – Lodge an application online
Online applications require payment of the prescribed application fee at the time of lodgement via a credit card for the application to be accepted.
 
Option 2 – Complete a hard copy application form. 
Applications must be made using the current prescribed form.
 
Note:
  • A total of five (5) trees only per application, with a maximum of three (3) applications may be lodged with Council at any one time.
  • Supporting documentation which authorises the lodgement of the application must be attached when lodging an application on behalf of the property owner. Examples could include (but not limited to): strata managers, Power of Attorney, directors of companies, trustees, executors, etc.

How much does it cost?

​$74 (cash, credit card, cheque or money order). The application fee is reduced by 50% for residents who receive a Wollongong City Council pension rate rebate, ie a fee of $37 will apply. These costs are outlined in our Fees & Charges.

Procedures

​Residents and/or contractors are advised to contact Customer Service if they are unsure whether they need to obtain a Tree Management Permit or a Development Consent.

Where a Tree Management Permit is required, and once Council has received a completed application form with the appropriate payment, applications will generally be processed within 10 working days.

Tree Management Permit Determination

​Once the application process has been completed, a Tree Management Permit will be sent to the applicant.  The permit should always be reviewed prior to undertaking any approved works to ensure any consent conditions including any tree replacement requirements are adhered to.  A general condition of all permit consents is that a copy of the permit is on site at all times when undertaking the approved works.

If an application is refused, or part refused, an applicant who is dissatisfied with Council’s decision can lodge an application for review of the determination within 12 months from the date of issue on the original permit.  Any review must be supported by relevant documentation from an appropriately qualified consultant such as an arborist/structural engineer, depending on the reasons for this request. 

For more information, download an Application for Review of Tree Management Permit Determination.

Dangerous Trees on Private Property

Dangerous Trees on Private Property Fact Sheet
 
In situations where a tree poses an immediate and obvious threat of injury to persons or damage to property, the following procedure should be followed.
 
Remedial action can be carried out to make a tree safe by Council, State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS) or other infrastructure authority/emergency service authority in response to an emergency.  In such instances the property owner is required to be able to support the immediacy of the danger of the tree such as witnessed by Council, SES, RFS or other infrastructure authority/emergency service authority.
 
Alternatively, a report by a person qualified in arboriculture including photographic evidence, or a statutory declaration from third parties should be obtained.
 
A Tree Management Permit application must be lodged with Council for the removal or further pruning of a tree within 72 hours from the date of the emergency remedial works for any tree upon private land, including the submission of documentary evidence as described above which proves the tree is dangerous to human life or property.

New Rural Fire Service 10/50 vegetation clearing laws

​New laws are now in place that allow residents in certain areas to prepare their homes for bush fires by clearing vegetation from around their home.

For details, and to find out if your home is in a 10/50 area, visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website.

Trees on Neighbouring Properties

The owner of a neighbouring property may seek Council's consent, on the appropriate application form, to prune a neighbour's tree if it overhangs their property. Consent will be dependent on the ability of the tree to be pruned in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4373-2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees, and root pruning is subject to tree stability. All approved pruning shall be restricted to the applicant’s side of the common property boundary only, where the tree owner’s consent has not been obtained.

Property owners are encouraged to cooperate where a branch overhangs a property boundary. However legal advice may need to be sought regarding any liability arising from damage caused by trees.

Disputes between Neighbours

​Council has no direct role in dealing with neighbourhood disputes regarding trees on property boundaries or damage caused by trees.

Any dispute arising from the removal of a tree or damage from a tree may be resolved through the Community Justice Centre or private civil action.

If dispute mediation is unsuccessful, an adjoining property owner may wish to lodge an application with the Land and Environment Court under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.  This Act allows owners of an adjoining property to apply to the Land and Environment Court for an order to remedy, restrain, or to prevent damage to their property or persons as a consequence of a tree situated on a neighbouring property.

Who should pay for work on private trees?

​Council is not in the legal position to determine who has to pay for proposed tree work.  This is a matter for the two parties concern to agree upon. For more information on dispute resolution see the Community Justice Centre.
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