Tree Removal & Pruning

Do you need a private tree or street tree removed or pruned?

Trees are protected in Fairfield City, so removing a tree requires Council approval.

Pruning can also require Council approval.

You need to apply for a Tree Work Permit so that Council's Tree Management Officer can assess your application. 

Tree protection in Fairfield City and the law

Tree protection

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021 aims to: 

  • protect the biodiversity values of trees and other vegetation in non-rural areas, and
  • preserve the amenity of non-rural areas through the preservation of trees and other vegetation.

The State Policy applies to private properties in Fairfield City including within:  

  • residential areas
  • commercial areas 
  • industrial areas, and
  • private recreation sites.

Clearing vegetation (including trees) in most cases requires a permit or approval from Council.

Permits conditions must be followed, noting action may be required before or after the clearing is carried out. 

Council officers with expert training and experience will assess all requests for the removal of vegetation without a permit where residents are concerned about possible safety risks to people and/or property.

An application for a permit will be assessed and a decision made within 28 days after the application was received.

Where Council refuses to grant a permit, applicants can lodge a ‘Review of Determination’ application with additional information and an alternative Council Officer will review the application.

Where Council refuses the review, applicants can appeal the decision to the Land and Environment Court within 3 months of being notified of the decision.

When calling Council's Call Centre, please record your Customer Request number with all requests for action. 

Legal considerations

The Land and Environment Court has directed that:

  • disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.
  • the dropping of seeds, flowers, fruit and small debris is not a reason to interfer with an urban tree.

 

Trees on Public Land - Advice for residents and developers

Street trees are an important community asset managed by Fairfield City Council

Residents or developers are not authorised to remove or prune street trees or other trees on public property (parks, sportsfields, laneways) for any reason.

  • If you need to report a concern with a street tree or park tree, please complete this form Reporting Issues (Service Requests). Council will prioritise pruning based on specified clearances for public safety. A qualified Council officer will assess all requests for tree work.
  • If you require the removal of a street tree as part of a proposed development or construction works (driveway or other works), a Development Application is required. You cannot use the Complying Development process where you require a street tree to be removed. Applicants will be required to pay for the cost to remove a street tree.

If you remove a street tree without Council approval, an investigation will be undertaken and legal penalties may apply. 

Council pruning of street trees - How it is done

Street tree pruning will be carried out by Council according to Australian Standards. Pruning that is detrimental to a street tree, or may create a hazard, will not be carried out. This may mean that not all branches overhanging private property will be able to be pruned. 

Legal considerations

The Land and Environment Court has directed that:

  • disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.
  • the dropping of seeds, flowers, fruit and small debris is not a reason to interfere with an urban tree. 

 

Trees on Private Land

If you wish to remove or prune a tree on private land you must complete a Tree Work Permit application below or the tree needs to be an exempt species (see Trees that require a permit).

Council will generally approve an application to prune or remove a tree if:

  • the tree or branches are dead
  • the tree is unhealthy (diseased) and not expected to survive
  • the tree is considered a safety hazard (pedestrian/vehicular sight line impairment)
  • the tree has caused extensive structural damage and there are no repair alternatives.

All approved pruning must be done with due regard to the health of the tree, correct pruning techniques and the safety of nearby people and property. All approved pruning work must be done to Australian Standard AS4373-2007 - Pruning of Amenity Trees.

Council will not normally give approval to prune or remove a tree for the following reasons:

  • To improve views
  • For minor property damage such as minor lifting of driveways and paths by tree roots
  • Trees are creating a nuisance by shedding leaves, fruit, bark, cones or twigs
  • Trees are overshadowing (Council may approve selective thinning of the canopy to improve solar access)
  • To rectify/prevent termite damage (termites eat only dead wood, and termite damage can be inhibited by appropriate barrier treatment and regular pest inspections by a certified pest inspector).

Note: The Land and Environment Court has directed that disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.

 

Trees that require a permit

Make sure that before you remove or prune an undesirable tree, a qualified person identifies the tree.

Council permission may not be required to remove or prune a tree if it is listed as an 'undesirable' tree in the schedule at the end of Chapter 3 Environmental Management and Constraints(PDF, 1MB) under Fairfied Citywide Development Control Plan 2013.

You should keep evidence of the advice if Council investigates the removal of the tree following a public complaint. 

All other trees not identified as an undesriable tree requires a Tree Work Permit application for any tree work.  

If you remove or prune a tree that is not on the undesirable tree list, Council will take action.

Fines and penalties may apply depending upon the circumstances.

Please remember that Council has detailed records of aerial photography that show the location of all trees in the City.

Legal considerations

The Land and Environment Court has directed that:

  • disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.
  • the dropping of seeds, flowers, fruit and small debris is not a reason to interfer with an urban tree.

 

 

 

Trees and Emergency Works

Are you worried about a tree after a storm or strong wind?

If you think that emergency work is required, contact a Consulting Arborist (with Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Level 5 in arboriculture) for advise.

Qualified Consulting Arborists can be contacted through one of the professional associations:

An emergency application may be made by telephoning Fairfield City Council on 02 9725 0222 (including after business hours) where:

  • a AQF Level 5 Consulting Arborist has identified the likelihood of tree/branch failure,
  • property or people cannot be removed or redirected away from the area, and
  • the Consulting Arborist provides Council with a written and photographic record of the work and the reason for it.

Legal penalties may apply for work carried out as ‘emergency’ but which has not followed the proper approval process.

Note: The Land and Environment Court has directed that disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.

 

 

Trees on neighbouring properties - how to resolve problems

Disputes over neighbour's trees

Council does not have the authority to order a resident to prune or remove a tree, tree roots or branches that is damaging a shared fence or causing other problems or nusiance.

The first step in solving a neighbouring tree problem is:

  • discuss the problem with your neighbour
  • talk about possible solutions including the cost
  • negotiate a solution that satisfies you both.  

If you do not reach an agreed solution, disputes between neighbours are not solved by Council.

To see if you can reach a solution with some help, the next step is:

  • mediation organised by a Community Justice Centre, or
  • legal action in the Land and Environment Court.

Mediation

Community Justice Centres provide free mediation services to people across NSW.

If you and a neighbour are locked in a dispute over a tree, mediation is a practical alternative to legal action.

A trained mediator will meet with you and your neighbour to discuss the problem and help you to resolve it.

Legal action

If mediation fails, property owners can apply to the NSW Land and Environment Court to resolve the matter.

Under NSW law, the court can make orders to “remedy, restrain or prevent damage to a property” (or injury to a person) caused by a tree on adjoining land. The court may also order compensation for damage already caused by a tree.

You can only apply to the court if you've already made a reasonable attempt to resolve the situation. Check the Land and Environment Court’s website before you consider making an application.

Please note, this information and the relevant law (Tree (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006) only applies to trees on private property. If you have concerns about a tree located on council land, contact us.

Legal considerations

The Land and Environment Court has directed that:

  • disruption to infrastructure such as kerb, footpath, driveways etc. is not a reason for the removal of trees.
  • the dropping of seeds, flowers, fruit and small debris is not a reason to interfer with an urban tree.

 

 

Trees and Plumbing

  • Local Government is not responsible for plumbing on private property. The property owner is responsible for the good order and maintenance of plumbing.
  • Council does give consideration to an insurance claim. The onus of proof is with the property owner in any claim and part of this process will require the visual inspection by a Council Officer of the section of pipe where the blockage has occurred. The cost of the excavation to expose the blocked section is borne by the applicant.
  • Council investigates all complaints, makes an informed decision and will advise the person who lodged the complaint accordingly.

For more information on wastewater blockages, please visit the Suydney Water webpage Wastewater blockages (sydneywater.com.au)

For more information on trees and plumbing, click here for an information sheet(PDF, 774KB)

 

 

Below is a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in removing or pruning a private tree, including how to get a tree work permit.

Please note: Penalties apply if a tree is damaged or removed without a Tree Work Permit.

 

STEP BY STEP GUIDE

Before applying for a Tree Work Permit to remove a tree, make sure it is the best option.  Think about the steps below before deciding what to do. 

Step 1.Can the problem be fixed with pruning?

Pruning a tree can help to fix a problem without removing the tree completely.  For more infomation on tree pruning, click here for an information sheet(PDF, 884KB)

If a tree has a height of over 4 metres or a branch span of over 3 metres, a Tree Work Permit may be required. 

For more information on pruning a tree, contact Council's Tree Management Officer on 02 9725 0222.

Step 2.Is the tree interfering with a power line?

Energy companies are responsible for tree pruning around power lines.

For more information on pruning a tree around a power line, contact Endeavour Energy on 133 718.

For emergency situations where a tree has fallen on powerlines, contact Endeavour Energy on 131 003.

Step 3.Is the tree outside of your property?

If the tree is on public land, contact Council on 9725 0222 and the problem will be investigated. 

If the tree is on your neighbour's land, you will need to talk with them. 

Council needs the consent of the owner to remove or prune a tree.

For more information, please read our Trees on neighbouring properties - how to resolve problems. 

Step 4.Is the tree on your property?

For more information about the Council's tree removal consideration process you can read Fairfield City Council's Tree Management and Tree Work Permits(PDF, 841KB) and Trees and Plumbing(PDF, 774KB) information sheets.  

Step 5.Is your tree removal part of land clearing for development? 

The NSW Government introduced the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) to minimise and help offset impacts to biodiversity, which occur as result of land clearing associated with development. The BOS provides a set of guidelines under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which allow for the fair and consistent assessment of any development that involves the clearing of native vegetation. 

For more information about whether your development is assessable under the BOS, click here for a Biodiversity Offsets Scheme fact sheet.(PDF, 1MB)

Step 6.There are fees associated with submitting a tree work permit

After considering the above points, you may still think applying for a Tree Work Permit is the right course of action.

Below is a list of fees associated with a Tree Work Permit valid to 30 June 2023:

Trees Tree Work Permit Application Fee Fee - Pensioner discount
1 - 2< $80 $40
3 – 4 $160 $80
5 - 6 $240 $120
7 – 8 $320 $160
9 – 10 $400 $200
Review of Arborist Report - $40 standard fee

 

Follow the link below to apply for a Tree Work Permit.

Tree Work Permit Application