Trees and vegetation play an important part in the landscape and provide many benefits to the local community, such as:
- improve streetscapes
- improve appearance and value of property
- provide a cooling effect and reduce impact of extreme heat
- provide food and shelter for native animals and plants
- contribute to the visitor experience for tourists
- contribute to a sense of wellbeing within communities
- improve air quality and reduce soil erosion
- softens the built environment
- reflects local natural and cultural values
Do I need approval to remove trees and vegetation?
Native vegetation clearing in NSW is managed under the following legislation:
- Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016
- Local Land Services Act 2013
- State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-rural Areas) 2017
Removing vegetation associated with development
Where native vegetation is proposed for removal to facilitate a development for which a Development Application under Part 4 of the EP&A Act is required, the assessment of the vegetation removal will occur during the development assessment process and you do not need a permit.
Any vegetation to be removed must be identified on the site plan. Depending on the area and location of the native vegetation to be removed, a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) may be required under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Removing trees on heritage items or within a Heritage Conservation Area
Typically, removing trees associated with a heritage item or within a heritage conservation area requires development consent.
Some minor works for the maintenance of the heritage item and trees or a place within the heritage conservation area do not require consent.
Council must first be notified in writing of the proposed works and, before the works are carried out, Council must respond in writing that it is satisfied that the proposed development is minor.
Removing vegetation in urban areas (not associated with development)
Vegetation removal not associated with development is regulated by the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP) and the relevant tree and vegetation removal controls within a Council adopted Development Control Plan (DCP) (s2.5.3 of the Bombala DCP, s7.1 of the Cooma-Monaro DCP and sC5 (1) of the Snowy River DCP).
A permit under the Vegetation SEPP is required when removing vegetation in the following circumstances:
- located in a Residential (R1, R2, R5, RU5), Business (B1, B2, B3, B4, B5), Industrial (IN1, IN2), Special Purpose (SP1, SP2, SP3), Recreation (RE1, RE2) or Environmental (E2, E3, E4) zone
- are required to be removed to carry out Exempt Development in the above zones
Exemptions from requiring a permit under the Vegetation SEPP
Some vegetation and tree clearing is exempt from Council permit requirements.
Please note that clearing or tree works may require approval via another pathway and that the below exemptions do not prevail over these other pathways.
Even where no approval is required, it is recommended that prior written notification be made to Council before any tree work is carried out, providing information such as tree species, reasons for proposed works and digital photos.
Approval is not required to perform tree works or remove a tree if it is clear to Council that the tree is a risk to human life or property.
Council permit approval is also not required to perform tree works, if the tree:
- is dying or dead, is less than 6 metres in height and is not potential habitat of native fauna or a part of an ecological community
- has been approved to be removed under an existing Development Consent issued by Council. Note: if approval is given for the pruning and removal of tree/s as part of Development Consent, tree works can only be carried out when construction work physically and substantially commences
- is located in a fuel free zone as determined by Council’s Fire Control Officer and that tree represents a fire hazard
- is of an undesirable species
- is to receive minor or maintenance tree works, including:
- crown thinning by a maximum 10% of the existing canopy in any two year period
- pruning of deadwood more than 50mm in diameter
- removal of live branches to a height of 2.5 metres from ground level
- formative pruning of young trees for power line clearance, as defined in Australian Standard (AS 4373-2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees)
- pruning to promote growth or fruit production in a manner which does not harm the health of the tree
- is growing within two (2) metres of any building (excluding an outbuilding) measured horizontally from the closest point of the trunk at one (1) metre from ground level to the closest point of the vertical alignment of the building structure which may be the eave, guttering or fixed awning of the building
- involves tree works on public land owned by or under the care, control and management of Council and carried out by persons authorised by Council
- includes anything authorised by or under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 or State Emergency Act 1989 in relation to an emergency and that was reasonably necessary in order to avoid an actual or imminent threat to life or property
- impacts any emergency firefighting or bush fire hazard reduction work within the meaning of the Rural Fires Act 1997 that is authorised or required to be carried out under that Act (10/50 vegetation clearing).
- requires separate authorisation under the Biosecurity Act 2015, Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999, Forestry Act 2012, Water Management Act 2000, Mining Act 1992 or the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991, Fisheries Management Act 1994, Spatial Information Act 2002 Act 1993, Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Removing vegetation on rural lands
(not associated with development)
Removing native vegetation on rural (zoned RU1 or RU2, RU4) not associated with a development application is regulated by Local Land Services.
Exemptions exist for some clearing authorised for certain allowable activities. Clearing may also be permitted under the Land Management Code to remove invasive native species, expand pastures, maintain continued use of land, allow for equity of land use or is necessary as part of farm planning.
Bushfire and asset protection
Properties within the Snowy Monaro may be affected by the NSW 10/50 Entitlement. This allows for the removal of trees on some properties within 10 metres of a home. These properties are deemed to be in a 'clearing entitlement area' which meets the 10/50 Code of Practice.
It is the home owner's responsibility to find out if the 10/50 Entitlement applies to trees within 10 metres of a home. There is no need to apply to Council to remove trees that are in a clearing entitlement area.
You can find out if the 10/50 Entitlement and exemptions applies to you by visiting Rural Fire Service vegetation clearing.
Tree disputes with neighbours
Difficulties can emerge over nuisance or allegedly dangerous trees on a neighbour’s property. Complex factors arise in these situations, and can result in conflict.
Council has no jurisdiction on these matters. Assistance in resolving disputes between neighbours can be found through:
- The Community Justice Centre who can help resolve disputes between neighbours. It's advisable to contact this centre before the dispute escalates
- The NSW Land and Environment Court who run a free service providing procedural assistance (not legal advice) on tree disputes