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How to Successfully Apply to Council for Tree Removal

Download your local councils TPO here

by Ben McInerney            Last updated 17 April, 2017

Can My Tree Be Removed Without Council Approval?

That will depend on: 

Tree species - Is your tree a national pest? (noxious weed)

Tree vigor - Dead trees don't need approval

Tree size - Height of tree & girth of trunk

Tree location - How close it is to the foundations of your home

Fire zone clearing - Does it fall under the 20/50 rule for fire hazard

Your local councils rules - Varies greatly from council to council

Pro Tip: There will also be rules about proximity to your home, tree size and maximum percentage that can be removed if pruning the tree, all without council consent.


Example: Trees within 3m of your homes foundations can be removed without approval. (most councils have a variation of this rule)



I'm a Certified Arborist and i'm going to lay down everything you need to know and everything you need to do/say in order to have the best chance at a successful bid to council to have your tree removed.


Let's dive right in....

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1. Firstly, does your tree actually need council approval?

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There is a good chance it can be removed without approval!

All local councils have whats called a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which outlines rules for tree maintenance and removal.


This allows you to check whether your tree can be removed without council approval.


Quickly and easily check now for yourself...

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TPO is outlining that trees less than 5m high or within 3m of your home don't need approval.


If your tree is not exempt, then you need to put in an application to council


1. Type this into google "tree removal application form [your council]"


2. Download .PDF


3. Print and fill in the details.


4. Pay any money required


5. Wait 1 - 2 weeks for n officer to come out and have a look.


Think you do need council approval?

Pro Tip: If your reason on the application for removing the tree is because it's "lifting pavers" or "filling the gutters" with leaves, the council will literally laugh at you and reject your application.


But if your tree is posing a real danger to peoples lives such as falling branches (maybe kids are always playing under the tree or pedestrians may be injured/ killed) then they REALLY take it seriously.

The Application Will Look Like This...

This is where things can get a little dicey.


Some councils will ask for a report to be prepared by an independent arborist. The arborist will draw up a very detailed report on their 'opinion' on whether approval for the trees removal should be granted.


Based on that report the council will make their decision.

Has Your Council Asked For An Arborist Report?

There are two types of arborist. There is a consulting arborist and a working arborist. The former just does reports and the later does reports and also does the hands on work.


In my opinion/experience your best going with the later, a working arborist. 


When you think about it, it's in their best interests that the tree is removed as they will probably get the job and earn more money if they approval it for removal.


They are on your side. A consulting arborist is a little more nutural. 


Disclaimer: This is not a rule of thumb, as every tree, situation and council are different, but it's an observation of my 14 years in the industry.

Your Next Move Is Important...

What do Arborist Reports Cost?

This can vary greatly from case to case.

It will also depend on what level or arborist is required (Cert. III arborist or Cert. V), number of trees involved and how soon you need it.


Single Tree, Cert III - Cert. V Arborist, you will be looking at $400 - $700

What If The Arborist Say's The Tree Needs To Stay?

Depending on the tree/ arborist/ local council, the report might come back that the tree needs to stay. 


...ooouch!


If you're not happy with that then get a second opinion! This can get expensive considering reports average around $500 for a single tree. So try and feel out the arborist to see what he thinks before you commission the report to be drawn up.


If you don't think it's going to be favourable for you, then get another one that's singing the tune you want to hear.

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Still Don't Know What to Do?

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We've done the research so you don't have to.

... Don't worry


There are local contractors ready to help you with this.


Simply fill in the quick form on the right, and we can get you in touch with up to 3 local arborist who can give you:


- Advice on your situation

- Best way to proceed

- A great price on tree removal or pruning


They are local, qualified and insured

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