Why are trees important to Bayside?
Trees are vitally important in the urban environment. They fulfil many functions including improving air quality, providing shade and relief from the sun, moderating winds, reducing storm-water run-off, providing habitat, roosting and food sources for native fauna, and contributing to land stability and erosion control.
In addition, trees make a substantial contribution to the “sense of place”, enhance streetscapes and add value to properties and our area generally. You must obtain a permit from Council before cutting down, pruning, ring barking, topping, lopping, or removing most trees located on private property.
What to do when you have a tree issue
To protect our City’s trees we have Development Control Plans in place which provide guidance and controls for tree management.
Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 you must obtain a permit from Council before cutting down, pruning, ring barking, topping, lopping, or removing most trees located on private property except those specifically exempted under the Botany Bay and Rockdale Development Control Plans.
Different exemptions currently apply depending on the suburb in which the trees are located.
For properties in the suburbs of Banksmeadow, Botany, Daceyville, Eastgardens, Eastlakes, Hillsdale, Mascot, Pagewood and Rosebery:
For properties in the suburbs of Arncliffe, Banksia, Bardwell Park, Bardwell Valley, Bexley, Bexley North, Brighton Le Sands, Carlton, Dolls Point, Kingsgrove, Kogarah, Kyeemagh, Monterey, Ramsgate, Ramsgate Beach, Rockdale, Sandringham, Sans Souci, Turrella and Wolli Creek:
Council consent can be granted either by way of a development consent or by a permit.
Heavy fines under Section 125 and 126 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 for trees on private property and Section 629 of the Local Government Act 1993 for trees on public land, apply for injuring or wilfully destroying a tree without consent.
Street and park trees
If you have concerns about a tree located on a nature strip, in a park or any other public place you can report it online by emailing email@example.com. Alternatively please contact Council's Customer Service on 1300 581 299.
Council is generally unable to order or otherwise force a tree owner to remove or prune a tree in their property or to mediate between property owners. If your neighbour is unwilling to remove or prune a tree or is unwilling to give their consent to such work we recommend that you seek to resolve any dispute with your neighbour through the Community Justice Centre (phone 1800 990 777). Alternatively you can make application to the NSW Land & Environment Court to have the matter resolved under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.
You should be aware however that in Barker v Kyriakides  NSWLEC 292 the NSW Land & Environment Court adopted the following principle in relation to leaf and fruit fall:
“For people who live in urban environments, it is appropriate to expect that some degree of house exterior and grounds maintenance will be required in order to appreciate and retain the aesthetic and environmental benefits of having trees in such an urban environment. In particular, it is reasonable to expect people living in such an environment might need to clean the gutters and the surrounds of their houses on a regular basis. The dropping of leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds or small elements of deadwood by urban trees ordinarily will not provide the basis for ordering removal of or intervention with an urban tree”.
Applying for consent to remove or prune a tree on private property
If you wish to have a tree removed or pruned you must lodge the application form relevant to the suburb in which the tree is located and pay the appropriate Application Fee which is shown at the top of the application form.
What we consider when assessing your application
The following matters are considered by Council when assessing an Application to Remove or Prune a Tree or Development Application requiring the removal or pruning of existing trees or vegetation:
- Significance or value (amenity, aesthetic, environmental) of the tree(s);
- Heritage listing and value
- Impact on local biodiversity, wildlife habitats or corridors, urban tree canopy, visual and aesthetic values and environmental amenity
- Health or condition of the tree(s) or vegetation
- Structural condition and characteristics of the tree
- Proximity to and interference with (current or potential) existing or proposed buildings, structures, utilities or vehicle sightlines
- Impact on the reasonable amenity of any person or property
- Public safety and nuisance
- Overhanging branches. The Tree Preservation Order prohibits pruning of prescribed trees to boundary lines without a Council permit. Council will determine how much of the tree can be pruned based on existing or likely structural damage and so as not to compromise the habit, structure or aesthetics of the tree
- Impact on the development potential of the land
- Whether the tree will be adversely impacted by a development proposal (its canopy and/or root system) and whether alternatives have been considered for building or structure layout, size or siting
- Whether the clearing of vegetation or work near it directly or indirectly impacts on a vegetation community protected by state or federal legislation
- Whether alternative solutions have been fully investigated to retain the tree or minimise pruning
- Specialist reports and previous history
Please note that approval will not usually be granted if you are seeking to remove or prune a tree simply because it is shedding leaves, bark, twigs, cones or fruit, or causing minor damage.
If approval is granted
All Council approved tree work must be carried out in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373: 2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees, AS4970: 2009 - Protection of Trees on Development Sites and WorkCover NSW Code of Practice ‘Amenity Tree Industry’ - 1998.
Suitable replacement tree(s) may be a condition of consent and are required to be planted on the property by the property owner or applicant. Council will stipulate the minimum acceptable replacement size tree(s), number of trees and may recommend suitable species. Replacement tree(s) are to be planted with consideration of the location of boundary fences, walls, pipes and buildings and the future growth potential of the tree(s).
Engaging an Arborist
Working with trees can be dangerous and often requires the skills of an expert. It is important to hire appropriately qualified people to carry out tree works.
Once you have obtained permission to undertake tree works, look for an Arborist who holds appropriate insurances and holds Australian Qualifying Framework Level 3 qualification or equivalent in Horticulture (Arboriculture). This ensures that the work is done as safely as possible and in accordance with the Australian Standards.
The links below direct you to a list of Associations that have suitably qualified Arborists as their members:
- Arboriculture Australia
- Tree Contractors Association Australian
- Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists
Useful information is also contained in the SafeWork NSW factsheet - Download the Hiring Tree Work Contractors factsheet or 2017 Arborists & Tree Loppers Directory
Can I appeal against a decision by Council?
Trees or vegetation on private property
If you are dissatisfied with our determination of your application to remove or prune a tree located on private property you may request a review of the decision. Fees apply for a review of a tree determination which must include additional information to support the request.
You must engage an Independent Consulting Arborist or other specialist i.e. structural engineer or plumber to provide further detailed advice and assessment of the matter. We will consider the independent report and re-inspect and/or review our decision or uphold the original decision.
For minor structural damage, you must investigate alternative measures to rectify the damage and retain the tree. We will only review our decision if all avenues have been exhausted and evidence is provided thereof.
You may also elect at any time within 12 months after the date on which the notice of determination is issued to have the matter heard before the NSW Land & Environment Court if you are dissatisfied with Council's determination of your application.
Trees or vegetation on public property (including street trees)
You may write to Council requesting a review of the decision clearly stating the reasons and providing any new or additional information including photographs. We may, at our discretion, engage a Consulting Arborist to obtain additional independent advice.