Trees on Private Land

Overview

Council is trialling changes to the 45 Degree Rule Exemption (the Rule) for tree removal and substantial pruning in Shoalhaven Development Control Plan 2014 (DCP). This trial period is set to commence on 16 August 2023, and will run for an initial 12-month period. For more information, please go to the '45 Degree Rule' page.

Council encourages trimming of trees over removal — an arborist can recommend which limbs should and shouldn’t be removed. 

Council's Development Control Plan (DCP) Chapter G4 – Tree and Vegetation Management is a policy for tree and vegetation management on all non-rural land (land in any zone other than RU1-RU4) within the Shoalhaven LGA.

It is strongly advised to view this policy to understand what pruning and removal of trees and vegetation is permitted, when approval is required to be obtained, and when exemptions apply, applicable to the land zoning of your property.

To apply for approval to remove or prune trees and/or other vegetation on private land in the Shoalhaven Local Government Area, prepare and submit your application to through the NSW Planning Portal.

You are encouraged to contact council’s Environmental Services Team prior to commencing works.

 

45 Degree Rule

Arborists and tree contractors are invited to attend an information session about the recent changes to the 45 Degree Rule, the new notification process and training opportunities available to upskill qualifications if required. 

- Shoalhaven Council Administration Building, Thursday 28 September from 4pm to 6pm 

Industry professionals wanting to attend need to register through the Online RSVP form, or by calling Council on 1300 293 111.

Council is trialling changes to the 45 Degree Rule exemption for tree removal and substantial pruning in Shoalhaven Development Control Plan 2014 (DCP). This trial period is set to commence on 16 August 2023, and will run for an initial twelve-month period.

The rule allows for the removal or substantial pruning of a tree if it is within 45 degrees of a lawfully erected building (e.g., a dwelling, garage, or outbuilding).

This means where any part of a tree is above a line 45 degrees from the vertical extension of the wall of any building measured from its base (as seen in the diagram below).

As part of the trial changes, the landowner must let Council and adjoining/adjacent landowners know of their intention to remove a tree in writing, at least five (5) business days before the tree removal is due to commence.

The self-notification process is not a consent/approval process. It is a notification tool to assist with data collection during the proposed trial period. 

Download the 45 Degree Rule fact sheet

For trees that can be removed without consent at any time, as identified in the Shoalhaven Development Control Plan (DCP) 2014, please view the exempt tree species list.

Diagram showing a 45 degree angle between a house and a tree

When can I remove a tree using the 45 Degree Rule?

For a tree to be removed or substantially pruned, it must:

  • Pose a risk to human life or significant property in the short term. This is not the same as imminent risk. 
  • Be located within the same lot as the lawfully erected building and cannot be used to remove or prune trees on public land.
  • Be removed or substantially pruned by an arborist with level three (3) qualifications, in accordance with relevant Australian standards.

When can't I remove a tree using the 45 Degree Rule?

The tree must not:

  • Have a hollow or nest or be on an upward slope greater than 18 degrees.
  • Not be located on a heritage item, be a heritage item itself or located within a Heritage Conservation Area.
  • Be required to be retained by the conditions of a development consent or a Section 88B Instrument under the Conveyancing Act 1919.
  • Be protected by other legislation (e.g. threatened, or endangered species, clearing above the biodiversity offset scheme threshold).
  • Be located on rurally zoned land.  Provisions for tree removal on this land is managed by the NSW Government Local Land Services, not Council. 
  • Be located in the Jerberra Estate.

Important information

  • The landowner must inform the Council and neighbouring properties in writing of their intention to remove a tree at least five (5) business days before the removal is due to begin.

  • If a tree poses an imminent threat to human life or significant property, it can be immediately removed without Council approval. You should contact the NSW SES or a qualified arborist for assistance. However, if the tree is heritage listed, on land that is heritage listed or in a heritage conservation area, you will need to contact Council prior to the tree being removed. 

  • Tree removal that does not comply with the above criteria may be considered development without consent, which can result in enforcement action and possibly fines to both the landowner and tree contractor.

  • If the tree/s do not meet the criteria for removal under the 45 Degree Rule an application can be submitted to Council via the NSW Planning Portal. Instructions on how to submit an application via the NSW Planning Portal can be found here.

How to notify Council

The notification to Council is to be signed by both the owner and the arborist with level three (3) qualifications who is undertaking the works.

Notify Council online 

Printable versions of the notification forms are available below:

What happens next?

Council will undertake 'spot checks' of the notifications to ensure that the tree being removed is consistent with the 45 Degree Rule exemption.

The self-notification process is not a consent/approval process. It is a notification tool to assist with data collection during the proposed trial period. 

For further questions or concerns, please reach out to our environmental services team.

Frequently asked questions

How does the tree removal notification process work?

As part of the trial changes, the landowner must let Council and adjoining/adjacent landowners know of their intention to remove a tree in writing, at least 5 business days before the tree removal is due to commence. 

The self-notification process is not a consent/approval process. It is a notification tool to assist with data collection during the proposed trial period.

The notification to Council is to be signed by both the owner and the tree removal contractor, and is to include the following information:

  • Property address.
  • Location of the tree to be removed on the site.
  • The size and species detail of the tree.
  • Reason for removal.
  • Provision of photographs of the tree from multiple angles to demonstrate compliance with the 45 Degree Rule criteria.
  • Confirmation that there are no exclusions from exemptions (heritage, consent conditions, 88B Instruments, etc.).

You can easily complete the notification process online through the council's website by following this link. A PDF version of the notification is also available if preferred.

Why does an arborist need to remove the tree?

It is important to hire appropriately qualified people to carry out tree works. Arborists have specific training and knowledge to safely remove trees and to recognise potential hazards.

The trial changes seek to ensure that:

  • Trees are removed to industry best practice and safety standards to protect tree contractors, landowners/residents, and their property.  
  • Unanticipated introduction of disease, damage, or future failure of surrounding trees is avoided/minimised.
  • Drainage issues are considered.

Alternative options are considered, including selective pruning to maintain the amenity of neighbourhoods and the intrinsic value of trees.

How to find an arborist with level three (3) qualifications?

You can search for arborists online or listed in business directories like the Yellow Pages. Check with the arborist if they have the relevant qualifications.

View Yellow Pages listings

What is a short-term risk?

A short-term risk is a risk that the landowner believes will occur in less than one year that cannot be mitigated by alternative tree management approaches (e.g., selective pruning).

What is a 'tree removal'?

The rule uses the term tree ‘removal’ which includes complete removal of a tree or the substantial pruning of a tree.

What does 'substantially prune' mean?

Substantially pruning means to lop or otherwise remove a substantial part of the tree/vegetation.

What is the definition of a Tree?

Tree means a perennial plant with at least one self-supporting woody or fibrous stem, being:

a) more than 5m tall, or

b) more than 5m wide across the foliage crown or

c) having a trunk circumference of more than 500mm measured 1m above ground level.

 

For further questions and answers on tree removal on private land, please go to the 'Frequently asked questions' page.

Private Tree Permit Application

Lodge your application online via the NSW Planning Portal.

Download, complete and submit the ‘Owners Consent’ form within your application to Council.

Owners Consent form

To complete your application, please follow the application instructions to prepare and submit your application through the NSW Planning Portal.

Application Instructions

NSW Planning Portal

Once your application is processed, an invoice will be uploaded to the NSW Planning Portal. Once you have completed the invoice, your application will be forwarded to the Officer for assessment and determination which will also be uploaded to the NSW Planning Portal.

To search for the relevant council fees and charges, please go to our Fees & Charges page. 

Tree hollows or nest

If a tree has hollows or a nest, an application must be made to council and an animal handler must be present to remove any native animal that may inhabit the hollow or nest if approved.

Heritage/Scenic protection and biodiversity values

There may be other restrictions on your property such as heritage protection, scenic protection or biodiversity values. If you are unsure, please contact our Environmental Services Team and an officer can check this for you.

Lodge your application online via the NSW Planning Portal

From 1 January 2021, we require lodgement of applications for 'private tree permits' via the NSW Planning Portal. This change is in line with the NSW Government's plan for all councils to participate in their ePlanning platform for application lodgement.

If you would like guidance to complete your application, please contact the Environmental Services team on 1300 293 111.

 To search for the relevant council fees and charges, please go to our Fees & Charges page.

Rural property vegetation removal

If you are removing trees on rural zoned land you must seek approval through:

Frequently asked questions

Are there other ways I can remove a tree?

If you are not able to remove a tree under the 45 Degree Rule Exemption, there are other ways that you may still be able to remove a tree on your property, including:

  • Imminent risk to human life and significant property. If a tree poses an imminent threat to human life or significant property, it can be immediately removed without Council approval. If the tree is, you should contact the NSW SES or a qualified arborist for assistance.
  • Trees under 5m can be removed without consent, as can certain exempt tree species that are considered non-native/ invasive. Refer to the Exempt Tree Species List.
  • Tree Removal Permit
  • Development Application with other works
  • NSW Rural Fire Service 10/50 Rule
  • NSW Local Land Services under the Local Land Services Act 2013 for properties located on RU1, RU2, RU3 and RU4 zoned land. 

If you need clarification regarding these options, please contact Environmental Services on 1300 293 111.

What happens if I remove a tree unlawfully?

It is considered unlawful if a tree is removed without consent or is removed without meeting the Rule exemption requirements.

There are significant penalties for the illegal removal or pruning of trees and other vegetation which can result in substantial fines under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 and the Local Land Services Act 2013.

It is also an offence to harm or pick threatened species, populations, or endangered ecological communities (EECs) under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Prosecutions can result in significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Before you consider removing or substantially pruning a tree under the Rule, you should undertake your own due diligence to understand if there are any broader legislative requirements that may apply to your circumstance regarding tree management.

Can I poison a tree instead of removing it?

No. Poisoning of trees is not a good outcome as a tree becomes more brittle and more likely to fail.  Further, felled trees are often used for burning (e.g., wood fires etc), and the chemicals in the wood from the poison can become toxic and a health risk.

As part of the trial changes, all removal tree works must be undertaken by an arborist with level three (3) qualifications.

I have a rural property and would like to remove trees or vegetation, what do I need to do?

If you are removing trees on rural zoned land (RU1, RU2, RU3 and RU4) you must seek approval through:

Local Land Services on1300 795 299

My neighbours trees are very large and I am concerned about them falling on my house.

Council does not have any involvement in neighbouring tree issues.

You may apply to the court under the provisions of the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 which will require that you contact your neighbour first to explain your concerns. 

Find out more:

Tree limbs that are overhanging your property from another neighbouring tree can be cut to the boundary, subject to whether approval is required. 

It is important to discuss your concerns and plans to remove limbs with the owner of the tree to avoid any disputes arising from proposed removal of limbs. It is advisable to engage a trained arborist to assess and carry out any pruning.

I’m concerned about a tree on public land.

The Rule in the DCP does not apply to trees on public land. If you are concerned about a tree on public land, you are encouraged to contact Council’s Tree Management Officers on 1300 293 111.

I have removed a tree, what can I replant?

Under the requirements of the Rule, you do not need to plant replacement trees following tree removal, however many landowners may wish to replant to maintain the amenity of the neighbourhood,

Council has prepared lists of local plant species that are suitable to grow in your area. You should ensure that any replanting has a suitable growth habit for the subject area.

What is the definition of a Tree?

Tree means a perennial plant with at least one self-supporting woody or fibrous stem, being:

a) more than 5m tall, or

b) more than 5m wide across the foliage crown or

c) having a trunk circumference of more than 500mm measured 1m above ground level.