Trees and vegetation in Warringah, even those on private land, are protected under the Warringah Local Environmental Plan (WLEP 2011) and the Warringah Development Control Plan (WDCP 2011). In the case of “Deferred Lands” a Tree Preservation Order and Policy applies under Warringah Local Environmental Plan (WLEP 2000).
You may also want to refer to the Rural Fire Service 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice.
The details below are a summary only.
Trees on Council Land
If you would like to report a public tree that poses a risk to people or property, or even request the pruning or planting of a new tree on public land, please go to our Request a Service page or call 9942 2111. Our Tree Management team will assess the request and let you know the outcome.
Trees on Private Land
Anyone wanting to carry out work in relation to trees on private land must consider the WDCP 2011 (located under Links). This includes proposed works on some trees that are overhanging from a neighbouring property. These provisions apply to all properties covered under the WLEP 2011, as opposed to the 'Deferred Lands'.
A. Properties covered by WLEP 2011
If your tree satisfies any one of the following criteria, then it can be removed without consent:
- The removal of a tree less than 6 metres in height.
A tree less than 6 metres in height which has a canopy width exceeding 7 metres will require consent.
The heights of all palm trees (not listed in Appendix 5 of the WDCP 2011) are measured from the base of the tree (at ground level) to the top of the trunk.
- The removal or pruning of a tree listed in Appendix 5 of the WDCP 2011.
- The removal of a tree, where the base of the trunk of the tree at ground level, is located within 3 metres of the foundation of an existing permanent building or structure that, if being constructed today, would under current planning controls require development consent, or a Complying Development Certificate. This includes a garage, carport, studio, shed, workshop and the like, swimming pool, spa and retaining wall (greater than over 600mm in height).
Note: The above definition does not include minor ancillary structures such as driveways, footpaths and retaining walls (unless greater than 600mm in height and therefore subject to development consent).
- Pruning a tree (unless exempt) where less than ten percent (10%) of the tree’s branches and foliage are to be removed over a period of twelve (12) calendar months. Pruning must be in accordance with Australian Standards AS 4373 – 2007 Pruning of amenity trees.
- The removal of a dead tree.
- The removal of dead branches (deadwood) from a tree.
Consent is required for the following trees:
- Any tree or native vegetation which is a threatened species, threatened species habitat or is part of an Endangered Ecological Community as defined under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
- Any tree which is a heritage item or that is within a heritage conservation area described in the WLEP 2011.
- Any tree specifically identified to be retained as a condition of development consent for building or works or subdivisions (this does not include Development Applications for Tree Removal or Tree Pruning).
B. Rural Fire Service (RFS) 10/50 vegetation clearing
New laws allow people in a designated 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area to:
· Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and
· Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval.
These provisions are administered by the NSW Rural Fire Service. To find out more or make an enquiry, go to the following link:
If you would like to prune or remove a tree, first check the exemptions outlined in the FAQ 'What trees on my property can be removed or pruned without consent?' If the tree is not exempt, you need to apply by downloading and completing the application (located under Links). Please note that owners consent must be provided refer to page 5 of the application form.
It is important that any supporting information be included as part of the application. A non-refundable application fee is payable. A Council officer will visit the site, assess the current health and condition of the tree. After the application has been assessed, the applicant will receive a determination in writing.
You will need to consult an arborist if your application involves complex investigation, internal diagnostic testing or an aerial inspection of the tree. Council will advise the applicant if an arborist report is required after the application has been assessed.
For information about what Council consider when assessing a DA to prune or remove a tree refer to following parts of the WDCP 2011:
If you are dissatisfied with a determination, and want Council to review the decision we made concerning your application you will need to lodge and have determined a Section 82A Review of Determination Application (located under links) within 6 months of the determination date.
Fees to lodge a review application are 50% of the original fee paid for the Development Application Tree Removal and Tree Pruning application fee.
In circumstances where the DA was refused due to insufficient information in support of the DA, you will need to include additional information such as an arborist or engineer's report to support the review application. The application for review will be assessed by a different officer to the original DA.
If an applicant remains dissatisfied the only further review available is an appeal in the Land and Environment Court.
Trees which are considered a high risk / imminent danger to life and property by a Level 5 qualified arborist are exempt development and can be removed without Council consent by the owner of the tree.
You need written confirmation from the arborist and the report must clearly state the following:
• Qualifications: AQF Level 5 Arborist or equivalent (see WDCP 2011, Part H, Appendix 10)
• The tree(s) is declared a ‘high risk’ or is an imminent danger to life and property
• Immediate removal of the tree(s) is recommended.
A copy of the report should be sent to Council for record keeping purposes.
Disputes and concerns over trees can sometimes arise between neighbours. Residents are advised to talk to their neighbour to resolve the matter.
If the tree in question is protected under Council’s controls, a Development Application for Tree Removal and Pruning form will need to be lodged with Council. This must include the consent of the owner of the tree.
Council has no authority in resolving disputes between neighbours or to determine who has to pay for proposed tree work; this is a matter for the respective residents to agree on.
If your neighbour will not agree to remove or prune a tree, you can contact the Community Justice Centre (CJC) for assistance. The CJC offers a free mediation service. The CJC can be contacted on 1800 990 777 and they have an office in Dee Why.
If mediation is tried and proves unsuccessful, the Trees (Dispute between Neighbours) Act 2006, which is administered by the Land & Environment Court of NSW, provides a process for resolving such disputes. This is the only authority that can resolve such disputes regarding neighbours trees.
A person who wishes to have a tree or hedge on the neighbour’s land pruned or removed, or who wishes to obtain compensation for damage to their property caused by a tree on a neighbour's land, may apply to the Land and Environment Court to obtain these orders.Please note: The Court requires individuals to make all reasonable attempts to negotiate and resolve the dispute before applying to the Court. You may wish to obtain your own legal advice in this respect.
Council recommends that you put your concerns in writing and forward to the adjoining land owner.
For more information or make an application go to Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006.
In most instances approval for tree removal will include a condition where you must plant a replacement tree. Please go to our Plants and Trees page for more information and suggestions. The condition may specify the size, and species of the tree to be planted.
When deciding on a replacement tree you should take into consideration:
- available space and the trees height and canopy spread at maturity
- its proximity to services such as electricity wires and sewer/drainage lines
- its proximity to buildings and boundary walls
- its proximity to neighbouring properties.
Please note that replanting by residents on Council managed land without consultation may result in the removal of these plants.
If you are unsure, please call our Tree Management Team on 9942 2111.
Council considers the unlawful damage or removal of trees as a serious offence. Persons found to have damaged or unlawfully removed a tree can incur a maximum penalty of $1.1 million plus a daily fee if an offence continues. In addition, a Court may direct an offender to plant new trees and vegetation and maintain them until established.
If your property is within the “Deferred Lands” (i.e. within the B2 Oxford Falls Valley or C8 Belrose North locality) under the WLEP 2000, then you must consider the Tree Preservation Order and Policy (located under Links).
Some requests to prune or remove trees will require that you apply for a Development Application (DA). This is done with the Development Application Tree Removal and Tree Pruning Form (located under Links).
Please refer to the relevant legislation. If you are unsure please call Council on 9942 2111 before proceeding.
Where a Development Application Tree Removal and Tree Pruning is required as part of an Exempt or Complying Development, you must provide a Site Plan prepared by a suitably qualified professional showing the existing and proposed development with existing trees identified with your application.
Where tree removal/pruning approval is granted, a condition of consent will apply, prohibiting any tree works to be carried out until the complying development certificate is issued from your certifier.
Warrinagh Development Control Plan, Part H, Appendix 11 - Class 2-9 Building and Appendix 12 - Tree Protection Plan may apply.
Should consent not be granted to remove the tree or trees, you can lodge a development application for the proposed work. This allows the matter to be considered in more detail and may require additional information such as an arborist report.
Allowing for a more rigorous consideration of the issue as part of a development application is one of the safeguards built into the exempt and complying provisions.
· First, talk to your neighbour about the pruning work.
· If you are pruning less than 10% of the trees branches and foliage, you do not need council approval.
· All pruning must conform to the Australian Standard for the Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS4373-2007).
· Any costs associated with tree pruning needs to be negotiated with your neighbour.
Choosing an arborist or a tree contactor deserves careful consideration.
Council does not make specific recommendations but you may want to consider this advice:
- Obtain a minimum of three quotes
- Sight the contractor’s Public Liability and Worker’s Compensation Certificates (Public Liability Insurance should be for a minimum of $10,000,000.00.)
- Check contractor’s qualifications and/or industry associations (a contractor should at least possess formal qualifications in Aboriculture such as AQF Level 3 Certificate of Horticulture (Arboriculture) or equivalent.)
- Ask for references or recommendations from previous clients.
- Agree on the extent of the work to be undertaken. Does the total price include i.e. removal of branches and debris off site, stump removal?
- Obtain a written quote that includes all proposed work.
- Pay contractor only upon satisfactory completion of the work.
- Familiarise yourself with Council’s Tree Preservation provisions / Tree Preservation Order requirements and discuss with the arborist / contractor.
For a directory of qualified and practicing Arborists, refer to the following links:
Free Call: 1300 664 374
Telephone: +61 8 8293 1522
Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA)
Ph: 1300 853 288
Tree Contactors Association
In storm and emergency situations please call the SES on their 24 hour helpline on 13 25 00 to report any storm damage related to trees.