Trees on private land

If your property or land is zoned Residential, Large Lot Residential (Rural Residential), Environmental Conservation or Environmental Management, you'll likely need council approval to lop or remove native vegetation. For the removal of non-native or exotic trees on private land,  you need approval if the tree (of any species) is located within a Heritage Conservation Area, or on a heritage listed property

However, there are some minor variations in different parts of the Clarence Valley to take into account the value of vegetation to local communities. If you're unsure whether you need approval, call us on 02 6643 0200.

If your land is zoned Rural, you may need to call the NSW Local Land Service on 1300 795 299 about any proposed tree clearing. 

Tree works

Approved activities include:

  • removal of weed species such as Camphor Laurels, unsuitable or hazardous trees
  • crown thinning for views and solar access, selective pruning, and weight reduction of limbs
  • maintenance pruning to remove dead, diseased, dying, defective branches
  • selective pruning to remove branches causing conflict, ie. building encroachment
  • root pruning of trees to lessen damage to built and natural structures
  • pruning for service lines, low and high voltage power lines
  • crown lifting for pedestrian or vehicular access
  • pruning for vehicle sight lines, signage, and RMS requirements
  • removal of trees causing damage to building
  • minimum work to make trees safe.

We don't approve of: 

  • removing native trees without owner's signature/owner's agent signature on application
  • the removal of native trees for views
  • the removal of any tree, native or not, protected under a heritage order
  • the removal of native trees for leaf, fruit or sap drop, bird or bat droppings
  • pruning of trees contrary to Australian Standards 4373
  • the removal of trees inhibiting grass or garden growth
  • the removal of native trees for allergies unless they can be medically linked to allergy by a specialist
  • alteration of soil levels greater than 50 mm within the drip line of a tree
  • the removal of native trees causing damage to minor ancillary structures such as footpaths and driveways.

Native trees and development

To remove native trees associated with an existing development, you'll need to apply for a Native Vegetation Works permit.

For proposed developments, any individual tree or clumps of vegetation potentially impacted by the proposed development, including those on neighbouring properties, must be clearly and accurately depicted on accompanying site plans as part of the development application (DA). Proposed removal and pruning of trees needed as part of the proposed development must also be indicated on the plans, so the impacts can be appropriately assessed.

Tree works agreed to on council-managed land as part of a development application will be undertaken at the cost of the applicant. This includes planting, pruning and tree removal.

If there's no existing development on a property or the land is vacant, you'll need to submit a DA for the proposed clearing of native trees. The information required for this type of clearing is more comprehensive and involves the preparation of a flora and fauna report. We encourage the retention of native vegetation until development of the property is planned, so the extent of removal can be considered as part of the overall development proposal. However, if there's a compelling reason for the removal of native vegetation on vacant land, a we'll consider a stand-alone DA.

If you want to remove or prune a tree that requires council approval and the tree is located on a neighbouring property, an application should be lodged on the individual’s behalf by the owner. In the case of unit blocks, the body corporate will need to endorse any application for tree works. In the case of joint ownership (trees growing on a shared boundary) all owners must sign the application.

A non-refundable application fee must be submitted with your application for a permit.

If the application is granted we may require replacement planting, which will be conditioned on the approval. 

Neighbouring trees

We have no authority over neighbourhood disputes, and this is deemed to be a matter between residents. 

Approach your neighbour to discuss your concerns. If the dispute can't be resolved amicably, you can contact the Community Justice Centre for advice. The CJC provides an alternative to the court system by offering a free mediation service and can be contacted on 1800 990 777.


10/50 vegetation clearing scheme

The 10/50 scheme gives people living near bush an additional way to prepare for bushfires.

The scheme allows people in a designated area to:

  • Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval, and
  • Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval. 

 It's the responsibility of the property owner to check if their property is located within a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area, whether the entitlement applies and whether there are any other restrictions that may apply. This information can be found on the RFS 10/50 Vegetation Clearing webpage.

If a 10/50 entitlement applies and there are no other restrictions, additional approvals from Council or Local Land Services are not required to undertake the clearing.

Note: A property owner may not clear trees or other vegetation under the 10/50 Code contrary to conditions set out in a Development Consent or other approvals under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. For example, if a Development Consent requires you to retain specified trees or vegetation, they cannot be cleared under the 10/50 clearing scheme, even if a 10/50 entitlement applies to the property.

Clearing under the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme must comply with the guidelines set out in the RFS 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice. Any clearing outside of the RFS 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice, and not subject to another exemption, is considered to be unauthorised and may result in penalties.


What if my application is refused?

If you're dissatisfied with the outcome, you can request a review of the initial decision up to 12 months after being notified of the determination.

An officer unrelated to the initial decision will undertake the review and we'll let you know the final determination soon after. If it is refused again, you may appeal to the NSW Land and Environment Court.