Trees on private properties
Pruning and removing trees on private properties
An application is required to be lodged with Council before pruning or removing a New South Wales (NSW) native tree or Norfolk Island Pine from any private property in Lake Macquarie. Where an application is not required to be lodged is identified in the section below titled When a tree can be removed or pruned without Council's approval.
How to tell if the tree is native
It is the property owner's responsibility to identify if the tree is native, non-native or otherwise exempt from requiring consent prior to removal or pruning.
Council does not provide a species identification service and will only identify the species after an application is received.
Some suggestions to identify tree species prior to lodging your application are:
- A consulting arborist or horticulturist can identify the species and complete a health and hazard assessment of the tree. They can confirm whether Council consent is required.
- A reputable tree service operator may be able to identify the species, provide advice on whether Council consent is required for pruning or removal, and provide a quote for any works.
- Take a sample (eg leaves and fruit/seed/nut) to a local nursery for identification.
Applying to prune or remove a tree
You need to lodge the Application to Prune or Remove a Tree with Council to gain approval for the work. We also recommend you read our Tree Preservation and Native Vegetation Management Guideline to learn about the general information usually to be submitted with the application.
Applications can be submitted online, by mail or in person at our Administration Building at 126-138 Main Road, Speers Point, from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.
You will need to provide a site diagram which identifies the tree in relation to buildings and other site features. The site diagram can be sent as an attachment with the online application process or use the system to generate one for you. You will be required to pay an application fee during the lodgement process.
After your application is submitted, we will carry out an inspection of the tree to determine if it is necessary and appropriate to remove or prune the tree.
When a tree can be removed or pruned without Council's approval
You don't need Council's approval for the following:
- Single native shrubs less than three metres in height, except for trees located adjacent to a heritage item in a conservation area or listed on our Significant Tree Register.
- Any tree that is confirmed dead by an AQF Level 3 Arborist and is not hollow bearing or providing habitat for native fauna.Photographic evidence that the tree was dead is required for future reference in case we are required to investigate the tree's removal.
- Tree works and clearing that have been approved as part of a development consent.
- If the tree trunk, measured at 1.4 metres in height, is located within five metres of the outermost projection of an approved building or structure on the same property. Approved buildings don't include exempt or complying development.
- The tree is dangerous and failure is imminent (for example, a split trunk or tree is moving in the ground) and is independently confirmed by an AQF Level 5 Arborist. Council is to be notified before undertaking works.
Trees blocking drain or sewer pipes
If a tree is blocking underground pipes, Council's approval to remove or prune it is required. When the tree is on a neighbouring property, the tree owner’s consent is required to be lodged with your application to Council.
If a tree on the neighbouring property is causing blockage to underground pipes on your property, and the owner of the tree does not agree to its removal, you are entitled to prune the tree roots up to the property boundary, but the pruning must not exceed 10% of the tree’s total root structure. A root barrier may then be installed. The work should be carried out by a qualified arborist.
Enquiries and advice about pruning or removing trees
For advice about pruning or removing trees on private properties, call us on 02 4921 0333.
Page last updated: 06 October 2017