Trees on private land

Council has native tree controls covering all land zoned Residential and Large Lot Residential (Rural Residential). Therefore, where you wish to lop or remove native vegetation you will need to consider if approval is required before you undertake any work, please contact Customer Services, Phone 6643 0200.

Generally no approval is required for removal of non native or exotic trees on private land unless they are associated with a heritage order. 

The Native Vegetation Act 1993 covers land zoned “rural” and the NSW Local Land Service (LLS) may need to be notified for proposed tree clearing (LLS Ph.1300795299).  For information on illegal land clearing contact the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and lodge details (Ph. 131555).

There are some minor variations in different parts of the Clarence Valley to take into account the value of vegetation to local communities. A fact sheet has been prepared to explain what clearing requires approval and the type of approval required. Click on the link below to download the fact sheet:

Council will only approve work to trees after an appropriate assessment.  This will be followed by an assessment letter determined in accordance with Australian Standards 4373.

Consent may be granted to the following:

  • Removal of tree weeds (ie. trees that are considered weeds such as Camphor Laurel), 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, i.e. building encroachment.
  • Root pruning of trees to ameliorate damage to built & 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.

Council will not approve the following work:

  • Trees without owner's signature/owner's agent signature on application.
  • Removal of trees for views.
  • Removal of trees for leaf, fruit or sap drop, bird or bat droppings.
  • Pruning of trees contrary to Australian Standards 4373.
  • Removal of trees inhibiting grass or garden growth.
  • Removal of trees for allergies unless tree can be medically linked to allergy by a specialist.
  • Alteration of soil levels greater than 50 mm within the drip line of a tree.
  • Removal of trees found to be causing damage to minor ancillary structures such as footpaths and driveways.

Making an application

Where you wish to remove native trees associated with an existing development including a dwelling you will need to submit a tree permit application.

Where you wish to remove native trees and there is no existing development or the land is vacant, a development application is required for the proposed clearing. The information required for this form of clearing is more comprehensive and involves the preparation of a flora and fauna report. Council encourages the retention of native vegetation until development of the property is planned so the extent of vegetation removal can be considered as part of the overall development proposal. Not withstanding this, where there is a compelling reason for removal of native vegetation on vacant land, a stand alone Development Application will be considered by Council.

For either the permit or development application for tree works, the forms must be signed by the owner/s of the tree. The application forms can be obtained from Council's Customer Service centre or downloaded. If an individual wishes to remove or prune a tree that requires an application 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, body corporate endorsement must be obtained before lodging an 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 the application form before the application is processed.

Once an application is completed and the appropriate fee paid, an officer will visit the site and assess the tree/s, then follow-up with a letter regarding Council’s decision in regards the application.

Replacement planting

If consent is given to the removal of trees, Council may require replacement planting and where this is required it will be conditioned on the approval. 

What are my rights of appeal if my application is refused?

Where an applicant is dissatisfied with a determination, a request for a review of the initial decision can be initiated (the request must be lodged within 12 months of the notification of the determination).

An officer unrelated to the initial determination will undertake the review. Council will advise the outcome of the review. Where the determination involves a refusal of an application the applicant may appeal the decision to the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Planting Advice

Most tree problems that Council is called on to investigate or assess are as a result of incorrect species selection and poor planting location. These problems could be avoided by carefully considering the following:

  • The mature height and spread that the tree can be expected to achieve.
  • Availability of space above and below ground, in the position where you intend planting the tree. This should be compared with the spatial requirements of the tree. As a general rule allow at least twice the height of the tree for root growth.
  • When planting, consider overhead powerlines, underground pipes, buildings, drains  and solar access. It is not advisable to plant large trees within 10 metres of a structure.
  • Consider the potential impacts of planting in respect to neighbours.  When landscaping gardens remember to be mindful of the long term effects of the species you select as this can also impact on neighbouring properties.

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