Trees are a significant natural resource and contribute to the amenity and character of Strathfield Local Government Area. Trees provide oxygen, shade and privacy. Trees contribute to reduced costs in cooling for buildings, reduce air and stormwater pollution and run off, and extract and store carbon from the atmosphere.
Work on and around trees needs to be regulated so that the future risks associated with trees are minimised and so that their life expectancy is not shortened. Poor pruning practices or root damage may affect a tree’s stability or result in branch shedding, injury, and property damage or in an increase in property maintenance costs for property owners.
When is Council approval required?
A Tree Removal and Pruning Permit Application for is required when proposing to remove or prune tree(s) located on private property or as part of a Development Application.
Council's planning policies (Part O - Tree Management Development Control Plan) prohibits:
- Cutting down, removing, injuring or poisoning any part of a tree above or below ground, having a height greater than four (4.0) metres or a girth greater than half (0.5) metre measured at a point one (1.0) metres above ground level, except by written consent of the Council.
- Undertaking works within 5 metres from the base of a tree
- Failing to plant, protect or care for a tree which is required to be planted, protected or cared for as a condition of consent.
Council consent is not required for:
- Pruning, control and eradication or removal of trees, which are listed as noxious weeds by the Department of Primary Industries for the Strathfield Local Government Area. Refer to the website: Department of Primary Industries for the Strathfield Local Government Area
- The following trees - Ficus elastica (Rubber Tree), Privet (large and small leaf), Umbrella Trees, Rhus Trees, and commercial fruit tree varieties.
- Exempt species area listed in Appendix 1 of the DCP unless the trees are or form part of a heritage item and/or are a contributory element to the heritage significance of a conservation area or where the tree is listed on Council's Significant Tree Register.
- Removal of dead branches from a tree in accordance with AS 4373-2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees.
Council recommends that photos be taken by property owners, prior to the removal of the above, to confirm the identity of trees should the need arise.
Camphor laurel is not listed by the Department of Primary Industries as a noxious weed for the Strathfield Local Government Area and removal of Camphor Laurel trees require Council approval.
How to apply for approval
Property owners or agent can make application to Council for removal of a tree by completing an Application to Remove or Prune a Tree form. In the case of multi-unit dwellings, consent of the Strata Management must be obtained prior to making an application to Council to remove the tree. If the owners are a company, the signature of the Directors, the ABN and/or company seal should be provided.
An administration free is charged for inspection of trees to cover the costs of administration, site visit and determination, and is non-refundable.
Consent will generally NOT be given to remove or prune a tree for the following reasons:
- leaf, fruit, bark, or twig drop
- minor shading
- view improvement
Owners must notify their neighbours of any proposed tree removal or pruning prior to commencement of work.
Property owners or agents/strata management may only apply to remove a tree wholly located within a property.
Trees affected by proposed building work are not subject to this process, but must be included with development application plans for assessment.
What if the tree is on my neighbour’s property?
If the tree is on your neighbour's property please refer to the Trees on Neighbouring Property section of this website for further information.
How are applications assessed?
Upon receiving your application, Council will review the circumstances of the case, inspect the tree and make a determination within 10-15 working days.
Access to the property is required to carry out inspections. Property owners do not have to be present during tree assessment inspections unless the owner specifically requests to do so, due to access or other reasons.
Trees are assessed in accordance with the following criteria:
- Landscape/amenity values
- Aboricultural factors such as species, height, age, pruning history and tree health
- Existing and potential site problems
- Additional written information may be required to confirm a cause of property damage if the applicant thinks the tree is responsible.
Permits or denial notices
Permits or denial notices are issued by mail when assessment is completed. Conditions regarding replacement planting or use of qualified arborist/tree contractors generally apply. Site specific conditions may also be applied.
Is there a right of appeal?
If you wish to appeal the decision made on your applicaton, you will need to do so in writing and include a report from a qualified consultant arborist (AQF Level 5) or a structural engineer. The matter will be considered by a senior Council staff member and you will be notified of the decision.
Who is responsible for works?
If written consent has been issued for tree work the applicant may carry out the work described. Property owners may negotiate responsibility for costs where boundary trees are concerned.
Property owners are recommended to engage qualified arborists to carry out works safely and using correct horticultural techniques (Australian Standard 4373). Council recommends tree arborists approved by the Arboriculture Australia or Institute of Australian Consulting Arborculturalists (IACA) to aid property owners to locate qualified contractors. Membership directory is available on the Arboriculture Australia website or IACA website. Contractors should have current public liability insurance of not less that $10 million. You should sight their certificate of currency prior to commencing work.
Penalties for Breaches
Substantial penalties and legal costs have been awarded to the Council for offences for unauthorised pruning and removal of trees. Where breaches are evident, the general policy of the Council is to prosecute.
If you remove, damage, or lop a tree without Council’s consent, you may be liable to a significant fine.
Maximum penalties under law are provided in excess of $100 000 in the Land and Environment Court. A recent case resulted in a fine of $25 000 in a Local Court.
Please be aware that trees on public land, including nature strips are Council property.
You may also be liable to a penalty for engaging or allowing another person to remove, prune or lop a tree without Council’s consent.
If you are unsure if you need Council consent or for further information please contact Council's Tree Coordinator on 9748 9999.
Illegal Tree Pruning By Tree Lopping Contractors
It has come to Council’s attention that residents are being approached by as yet unidentified contractors, proposing tree works that are stated to fall within Council’s “10% rule” of acceptance and therefore not requiring a Tree Pruning Permit.
Typically they give a false first name, do not provide a business name, ABN number, or insurer and contact information, ask for cash payment (often in advance) and do not provide an invoice. Their work is often incomplete, or creates tree hazards and tree health issues that did not previously exist.
Please note that within the Strathfield Council Municipality no such 10% exemption rule applies.
Council is committed to maintenance & enhancement of its green canopy.
As per Council’s Development Control Plan guidelines, only pruning of dead tree branches is exempt from requiring a Tree Pruning Permit.
Perpetrators of illegal tree works are liable to prosecution as are those (the unsuspecting property owners) allowing such works to occur. The maximum penalty in the Land and Environment Court of NSW is $1.1 million plus orders, for each tree or offence.
Residents are requested to report these tree lopping contractors and if possible provide the street or address, business name that is on the vehicle, a truck description and most importantly the registration number.