Tree Removal & Preservation

Trees are vital to our region for many reasons. They improve the landscape, provide a home to wildlife, shade our homes and streets and provide the 'leafy' feel we love around the MidCoast region. Trees also protect water quality and reduce land erosion whilst having a social and economic value.

Sometimes trees can also cause a problem, by threatening safety or a built structure. Council has to balance protection and nurture of our environment and landscape, with the need to manage undesirable and dangerous trees.

That's why tree management is central to our Environmental Plan, and why laws exist in certain regions that prohibits the unauthorised pruning, lopping, slashing or removal of trees.

This tree laws are complex and can be controversial with the public. It's something we are often asked about.

Please note that tree management currently differs across the MidCoast Council regions. This is due to the pre-merger situation.

Properties in the Great Lakes region are subject to stricter tree removal regulations.

Do I need to apply to remove a tree on my property?

Only If your property is in the Great Lakes Region.

Then you will need to submit the Tree Removal Application and payment. Once received, the Tree Management Officer will undertake an inspection. You will receive a written notification on the outcome. This process can take up to three weeks from when the application is received.

If your property is in the Manning Valley or Gloucester regions, you are still subject to State and Commonwealth legislation regarding tree removal. Seek Council advice if unsure.

Who owns a tree?

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. Submit a report and request form if a Council tree is causing you a problem.

Can I plant a tree on the footpath outside my property?

We encourage street tree planting, however some species of trees are not suitable for particular locations. You will need to contact us to check our preferred species list. Trees also need to be planted within the guidelines of Council's Greening Strategy.

For further reference please refer to Council's Street Tree Planting Policy or contact your local energy provider for further information.

Can I submit a Tree Removal Application if I'm not the tree owner?

Yes, but only if have the applicant has consent from the tree owner. The owner will need to sign the application form. 

Where a tree is located exactly on a boundary, both owners are required to submit an application before the application will be accepted.

Can I prune my tree without a Tree Removal application?

Yes - If your property is in the Manning Valley or Gloucester regions. Please refer to the Austalian Standard 4373-2007 - Pruning of amenity trees.

If your property is in the Great Lakes region, we allow up to 10% of live canopy pruning of a tree without a Tree Removal Application in some cases. Pruning must not have been previously undertaken in the last 5 years. Pruning should also only involve twigs, leaves and/or minor branches.  No structural tree limbs should be removed without approval from Council.

Do I need approval to remove a dead tree on my property?

Yes - In the Great Lakes region only. 

You need to seek approval for the removal of any tree.  Some trees are deciduous (losing their leaves in winter) making them appear dead or unwell. Others that are dead provide important habitat for birds, animals and reptiles.

Do I need to submit a Tree Removal Application when building a house?

No. Trees and vegetation are considered when assessing all development proposals.

They are part of the development application itself.  The Tree Preservation process is designed for properties that are already developed.

What can I do if I have trouble with a neighbours' tree?

Council has no power to enforce the pruning or removal of a tree located on, and affecting private properties.  

If you have a problem with a neighbouring tree, you need to talk to your neighbour.  If they are willing to submit a Tree Removal Application, Council will assess the tree. 

However, if they are unwilling to submit the application, we cannot assist.  

Information regarding civil tree disputes can be accessed further via the Land and Environment Court website , "Tree Disputes Between Neighbours Act 2006".

What can I do if I have trouble with a Council tree?

You will need to contact us and advise us of the problem. We will come and assess the tree and determine any required action. Please do not try to solve the issue yourself.

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 SES.  

In the Great Lakes region, if the tree requires assessment after the event a Tree Removal Application(PDF, 820KB) needs to be submitted to Council.

Tree Preservation

Trees which are protected by Tree Preservation legislation can't be removed.

Tree preservation applies to both public and privately owned land within the Great Lakes region of MidCoast Council, as identified in Council's Development Control Plan (DCP).  If you are unsure if your area is covered by the DCP please contact us.

The tree preservation rules apply to trees that meet any of the following conditions:

a)      Is 5m or higher in height.

b)      Has an over-bark girth (circumference) exceeding 600mm at 1m above the ground.

c)      Is a Cabbage Tree Palm (Livistona Australis) that is 0.5m high or taller.

d)      Is any species of mangrove.

e)      Is registered as a significant tree (on the basis of environmental, social, cultural, ecological or habitat reasons or on the tree’s age, size or prominence).

f)       Is part of a heritage item or a heritage conservation area.

Exceptions to Tree Preservation Restrictions

If any of the following situations applies, the tree may be pruned or removed after a tree removal application is accepted:

a)      You're pruning no more than 10% of the tree, (and that work is done to Australian Standards AS4373-1996). It needs to be over 5 years since the last pruning.

b)      Removing a tree with a nearside trunk within 5 metres of a lawful permanent dwelling (not a pergola, shed, deck, caravan, detached garage, etc), as measured from the trunk of the tree to the nearest outside wall. This doesn't apply for Koala food trees in Hawks Nest or Tea Gardens.

c)      If we receive a report from a Level 5 qualified arborist that states the tree is dangerous, diseased or dying and cannot be saved by pruning. "Dangerous" can mean it has a history of falling branches, it is structurally weak, or it is too big for the available space.

d)      The tree or vegetation is listed in the "Exempt Species" table within Table 2, Chapter 12.10 of the Great Lakes region Development Control Plan. (See below for downloadable pdf version of Chapter 12).

e)      The tree or vegetation is declared as a 'Noxious Plant' under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

For detailed information on tree preservation, refer to Chapter 12 Tree Preservation in Council's DCP 2016.