Even though you own your land, the trees on it belong to the community. The reason for this distinction is trees serve the community as a whole by purifying the air, reducing the heat island effect of cities, preventing erosion, and beautifying the neighborhood.

You will need to see the council for permission to cut a tree down on your property once it reaches a certain height. There are circumstances when you do not need to seek approval from the council.

You will not need permission when your tree is:

  • Dead
  • Hazardous
  • Already Fallen
  • Recognized noxious species
  • It’s too small to be considered “significant.”
  • Is too close you’re your house
  • It’s in a fire hazard zone

Every council is different in their definition of a significant tree so you will need to refer to your local council rules to see if you are safe to remove.

removing a tree after council approval

Local councils and cities take tree protection very seriously, and heavy fines apply if you remove a tree without first seeking permission. Depending on the tree being removed and the circumstances surrounding it, fines normally start at $2,000 and go up to $100,000 for multiple offenses on a single site.

Most of the time, property developers get in trouble for removing trees without permission.

They might have had a Development Application knocked back due to the council wanting to retain one or more trees. So they remove them, wear the fine and develop the property.

Other cases are homeowners removing trees blocking their view or dropping too many leaves.

How do I find the tree removal laws for my area?

There are a couple of ways to go about it. The easiest way is to use our free resources of local council regulations. Select your city, and then the local council will take you to the correct tree protection information on your local council website.

Another way is to get in touch with three local and verified arborists and ask them if they need permission and if they can come out and give you a price for removal while they are at it.

Note: Arborists will need to come out and inspect the job before giving a quote on the cost of cutting down your tree. Trees are tricky to quote over the phone from a description or pictures.

The third way would be to phone your local council and ask to speak to the arborist officer concerning a tree on your property. They will soon tell you whether you will need approval or not.

Resource: Visit our homepage to fill out our online form to get free advice from local arborists.

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Do I need permission if tree is dead?

dead trees can be removed without council approval

If your tree is dead you will not need to see permission for removal. In fact, once it has died, you should actually get it removed ASAP as it tends to become unstable quite quickly.

Once the tree has died, the only thing keeping it anchored to the ground is the roots. Once they start to become brittle and rot, it’s anyone’s guess when it will fall.

Do I need a good reason to remove a tree?

Yes, you will need to have a convincing reason to remove the tree. If not, the council will reject your request. Some reasons that will NOT work are, (read the following in a Bogan Shaza voice for better effect)

  • “The roots are blocking the stormwater.”
  • “ It drops too many leaves and they’re blocking the gutters
  • “ It’s just too big”
  • “It’s blocking my view”

To actually lodge a successful application to the council and get approval to remove your tree you need one of the following reasons:

  • Tree has developed a lean recently
  • It keeps dropping large branches and my kids play in the yard
  • It’s visibly sick and getting unsafe
  • It is cracking the foundations of my house
  • It’s infested with white ants.

Anything outside of the above and you’re going to have a hard time convincing the council to give you approval.

Remember tree removal applications get knocked back every day, so make sure you have a good reason before you apply.

We have actually written a whole article just on getting approval for your tree removal from the council, so check it out here for more ideas.

Will council remove the tree for me?

Ahhhh no. The only trees the council will touch are the ones on public land such as in parks and nature reserves. It’s quite ironic that they can give or deny you permission to remove a tree, but you need to pay for it once the overlords have given you their approval.

Author: Ben McInerney is a qualified arborist with over 15 years of industry experience. He uses his in-depth knowledge of the tree service industry to give readers to most accurate information on tree service costs and helps to educate them about the benefits of using a certified arborist for tree trimming and removal work.