Frequently asked questions

Can I prune trees on a neighbouring property?

The ownership of a tree is determined by where the trunk emerges from the ground, therefore if the tree is planted on the neighbour's property but overhangs into your property, it still belongs to the neighbour. To undertake any action on a neighbour's tree, you will need the neighbour's agreement first. If the trunk emerges on Council land, it is Council's tree and you can submit a report and request form if a Council tree is causing you a problem.

Before you prune branches overhanging from a neighbour’s tree, you need to check if the property is covered by the Vegetation Management Policy (you can check via the online mapping portal or back in Step 1 on this page). If the property is covered by the Policy, you'll need to follow the process set out by the Policy.


What if I have concerns about a neighbour's tree or other plants?

Council does not have the authority to act in disputes between neighbours. If you have a problem with a neighbouring tree, you need to talk to your neighbour. If your neighbour does not agree to removal or pruning, you can contact the Community Justice Centre for mediation assistance.

If your neighbour's tree or hedge is damaging your property and the mediation process proves unsuccessful, you may need to seek intervention of the court through the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006, which is administrated by the Land and Environment Court of NSW.  This is the only authority that can resolve tree disputes between neighbours. For more information click here.


How long does it take to get a vegetation permit?

You will only need to lodge an application for a permit to remove or prune vegetation if your property is located in an area covered by the Vegetation Management Policy, and you’re not eligible for an exemption.

Once your application is received, the Tree Management Team will undertake an inspection, and if a determination can be made, you will receive a written notification of the outcome. This process can take up to 28 days from when the application is received. In some cases, the process will be extended if additional information is requested in order to make a determination.


What do I do if my tree falls during a storm?

Remember safety first! Trees that are falling, or have fallen during a storm event, should be dealt with by the State Emergency Service (SES). When a tree is an immediate threat to people or property, emergency authorities like the SES, Rural Fire Service (RFS) or Council can also do work to make the tree safe.

Sometimes trees on your land can become dangerous. This could include part of the tree ‘failing’ (for example, branches falling), roots heaving out of the ground, or significant damage from storms. Dangerous tree work can only be done on the part of the tree that’s posing a risk; for example, the whole tree can’t be removed if only one branch is causing a problem. If this happens, you should collect evidence to show why the tree is a threat. This could include an emergency response reference number, photos of the dangerous tree or a report by a qualified arborist. The arborist report should be from a Level 5 qualified arborist stating that the tree is dangerous, diseased or dying and cannot be saved by pruning.

If your property is covered by the Vegetation Management Policy, you'll also need to apply for a Vegetation Management Permit within 72 hours of the emergency if more work needs to be done on the tree, or if it needs to be removed entirely. Evidence to show that the tree was dangerous (described above) should be included with your application.

If a tree on public land becomes dangerous, report it to Council on 02 7955 7777. You can also use this number after hours.


Can I plant a tree on the road reserve outside my property?

While we encourage street tree planting, some species of trees are not suitable for particular locations. As the road reserve is public land, you'll need to contact Council to request permission. We can then provide a preferred species list and advise of any other planting requirements. Planting needs to be in accordance with specific Council guidelines. Contact us on 02 7955 7777 or use our report and request form.


What if there is an issue with trees on public land?

If a tree on public land, such as a footpath, park or reserve near your property needs attention, please report it to Council by phoning 02 7955 7777 or completing our report and request form.


My property is covered by the Vegetation Management Policy - but how can I get more light or sun for my solar panels?

Wanting more light or solar access to solar panels is not generally accepted as a reason to remove or prune a tree. Sometimes minor pruning can be approved to let more light through. Approval will only be given if the pruning can be done in line with the Australian Standard for pruning of trees.

You will have to go through the normal process to determine if the pruning can be exempt or whether you need to lodge a permit application (see earlier on this page).


My property is covered by the Vegetation Management Policy - but how do I apply to prune or remove a tree on a strata property?

Talk to your strata manager or Body Corporate before starting a self-assessment or permit application. Their written approval and stamp or seal will need to be attached to the permit application. Some strata managers may offer to handle the application on behalf of the owners or residents.

The application will also need to include a clear map of the property or complex and the location of the tree so we can inspect it. After you lodge a tree application, we will inspect the trees listed. Please tag these trees so we can easily identify them. Use tape, ribbon, string, or a similar non-permanent material that won't hurt the tree.


How do I know if someone has permission to prune or remove?

You can find out if permission was required, and if so whether it was obtained, but ringing us on 02 7955 7777, or email us with the property address and details of what trees are being pruned or removed. Make sure you include information about the dates and times that the work on the tree or trees happened. If the property is in an area covered by the Vegetation Management Policy, we can check whether an exemption was granted, a Permit for the work was issued, or development consent has been issued.

If an exemption or permit has been obtained, it must be displayed by the applicant at the front boundary of the property for at least two days prior and two days after the work for which the exemption was for. Keep an eye out for this notice.

Please note that this generally does not apply to properties outside of the areas covered by the Vegetation Management Policy. In particular, Council does not have records of clearing done under NSW 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme.


I have noticed tree vandalism, what do I do?

Tree vandalism unfortunately happens in the MidCoast. The intentional damage of native plants affects the entire community. It impacts the lifestyle and views of residents and visitors; whilst simultaneously causing problems with biodiversity, and critically for our region’s water quality.

Damaged or vandalised vegetation creates a knock-on effect. It allows weeds to invade, thus degrading the area. This increases the chance of soil erosion and spoils the local micro climate. 

Vegetation vandalism is a crime and Council will investigate all attacks on native vegetation. Heavy fines apply following a conviction associated with vandalism of vegetation. If you believe a tree has been vandalised, please contact us on 02 7955 7777.


What plants should I plant in the MidCoast?

Across the MidCoast we have historic lists of preferred street tree species for some of our towns and villages. Council’s arborists are currently reviewing and updating these lists to assist in identifying what species should be planted in each location. It is not the case that ‘one size fits all’ - the species selection will reflect the character of each town or village. A list of trees with cultural value and ‘bush tucker’ trees is currently being explored in partnership with our local indigenous communities.  For immediate advice, please contact Council on 02 7955 7777 or via email.

Don’t forget, it is also important that you consider the following when planting trees:

  • What size tree can my property support (think about how the canopy of a tree will affect your property in terms of shade, leaf fall, neighbouring properties)?
  • Where should I plant a tree on my property (consider privacy, overshadowing, underground services and the size of the tree when mature)?
  • What is the purpose of the tree on my property (shade, soil stabilisation, landscape feature, to attract wildlife)?
  • What is the soil like, and the weather conditions the trees will be exposed to?
  • What care does the tree need after planting?


Still have a question?

We understand everyone’s situation is unique, and the legislation around vegetation management is complex. If you require more advice or information please contact us by phoning 02 7955 7777, email us on [email protected], or make an enquiry through our report and request form.