The maintenance of trees on private property is the owner’s responsibility. Trees located on private land generally require Council consent to prune or remove.

This is done by submitting a Vegetation Removal Application to Council. Once your application is received a Council Officer will arrange a site inspection to determine the inspection outcome.

Council aims to complete these applications within 30 working days, dependent on all relevant documentation being submitted.

Council approvals for pruning or removal are valid for two years, meaning that works must be carried out within this timeframe or additional approval will be required.

What trees require approval?

All trees located on private property that are deemed ‘declared’ require approval from Council to prune or remove.

A tree is deemed ‘declared’ if it meets any one or more of the following criteria:

a. is 3 metres or more in height

b. has a trunk diameter of 30cm or more at natural ground level

c. has a branch spread of three 3 metres or more

d. Is a hollow bearing tree (has cavities in trunk or branches, which can be used by native animals for foraging, shelter, roosting and nesting)

What trees don’t require approval?

‘Exempt’ trees are species that can be removed or pruned without approval from Council.

You can remove a maximum of five exempt trees on your property per year.

For more information about exempt trees and the associated conditions, refer to Section 21.2 of the Shellharbour Development Control Plan.

If you’re not sure what type of tree you have, please check with a qualified arborist or horticulturalist before pruning or removal.

It’s also a good idea to take a photo to keep as a record before removing any exempt trees, as the wrong identification could result in prosecution.

What reasons are not justified for pruning or removal?

The following reasons are not significant considerations in determining if a tree will be pruned or removed:

  • Improvement of views
  • Drop of unwanted materials (such as leaf or seed drop)
  • Interference with other private structures
  • Pruning will be considered for shading of solar panels, but not removal. A shade graph is submitted showing the anticipated amount of sunlight has been accurately identified prior to installation of the solar panels including anticipated natural growth.

How to identify trees on your application?

Council needs to know which trees your application relates to so we can inspect them before we make a decision. If we can't find the right trees, this can cause delays.

Make sure your application has a site plan that shows where the relevant tree/s are, such as:

  • an aerial map of the property
  • photos
  • a hand-drawn map or diagram
  • plans with the tree locations clearly marked.

As soon as you lodge your application you should tag the relevant trees so we can easily identify them. Use a brightly coloured tape, ribbon, string, or similar non-permanent material that won't hurt the tree.

What about heritage trees?

If you are wanting to remove a heritage tree on a property that is identified as containing a heritage item, you will need to lodge a Development Application.

A Statement of Heritage Impact and an Arborist Report is typically required to be lodged with the Development Application to determine whether it is appropriate and/or necessary to remove the tree/s.

Last updated : Tue 12 Mar 2024