Tree Preservation Order
Council’s current TPO requires that residents and property owners must apply for permission to top, lop, trim, prune, cut down or remove trees on private land. This applies to any tree with a:
- height of four metres or over
- canopy spread of four metres or more
- trunk width of 300mm or over at one metre above ground level
- listing on the Waverley Register of Significant Trees.
Download the application form for tree removal on private property.
It is up to the owner of the property concerned to make an application to Council to carry out work to individual trees. Council’s Tree Management Officer will inspect and assess the tree/s according to professionally applied, consistent criteria and the applicant will be notified once the application is approved, refused or approved with conditions. A written permit will be issued if approval is granted.
It may be a condition of consent that property owners engage a qualified tree surgeon to carry out the work, according to the relevant Australian Standard AS4373-1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees. Consent will quantify the percentage of pruning work or other work allowed under the Tree Preservation Order and the applicant must clearly indicate which trees are the subject of the consent.
In considering an application to alter or remove a tree on private land Council’s evaluation will consider:
- the size and health of the tree
- potential unavoidable dangers to property or person by either inaction or proposed action within 10 years
- the effect on the health of the tree
- the environmental value of the tree (its status as locally indigenous, as weed, as habitat or as part of the community)
- its impact on nearby remnant vegetation
- the cultural value of the tree (its status as landmark specimen and in defining local streetscape and character, its historical status, or listing on the Waverley Register of Significant Trees)
- its location within a space of likely future development (in residential zones this translates to anywhere within three metres of the established building zone).
1.1 When consent may be granted
Taking into account the above, consent can be granted for the following:
- removal of unsuitable or hazardous trees
- thinning of crowns to preserve solar access, some selective pruning and reduction of the weight of limbs
- maintenance pruning to remove dead, diseased, dying and defective branches, selective pruning to remove branches causing conflict through encroachment on own or neighbouring buildings
- root pruning of trees to ameliorate damage to built and natural structures in such a manner as to not compromise the health of trees
- pruning for service lines
- lifting of crowns to allow pedestrian or vehicular access
- pruning for vehicle sight lines, signage and RTA requirements
- removal of trees in conflict with built structures, where all engineering alternatives have been considered
- for construction or extension of buildings where there is no alternative to maintain the tree/s
- minimum work to ensure trees remain safe
- pruning and removal of fruit trees and flowering fruit trees not located on a heritage listed property or the Register of Significant Trees, depending on the species in question.
When granting consent to remove a tree an applicant will generally be required to replace that tree with an advanced approved species which is to be established and maintained for a specified period, especially if the removal of the original tree impacts on neighbours or the streetscape. Random audits of work granted consent will be carried out by Council.
Before planting any replacement tree it is strongly recommended that the eventual height and size of the tree be considered, particularly in regard to:
- power lines and other services such as water, sewer and drainage lines
- buildings, walls and pathways
- neighbouring properties
- suitability (trees or shrubs native to the coastal are highly recommended).
1.2 When consent may not be granted
Council may not consent to the following work:
- work on trees without owners’ or owners’ agent’s signature on the application
- removing trees for solar access, leaf, fruit or sap drop, bird or bat droppings, and damage to sewer pipes and built structures (unless all engineering alternatives have been considered)
- removing trees that are healthy and stable
- removing or pruning trees for views
- pruning trees in a manner contrary to the Australian Standard AS4373-1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees
- pruning work that is outside the tolerance of particular species, for example figs pruned by more than twenty per cent are more susceptible to sunburn
- tree work for emotive reasons, beyond the scope of the possible reasons given above
- removing trees because they inhibit grass or garden growth
- removing trees because of causing allergies, unless the tree can be medically linked to the allergy
- work which will seriously disfigure or unbalance the tree
- work which will alter soil levels within the drip line of a tree
- removing trees because they cause damage to minor ancillary structures such as footpaths and driveways
- requests to reduce the height of trees
- pruning to reduce the size of a tree listed on the Register of Significant Trees.
Instances where a formal Council application is not required, provided the applicant submits written arboricultural advice from an accredited provider, occur when:
- the tree is dead
- the tree is a recognised noxious or environmental weed and is not on Council’s Register of Significant Trees (see Appendix for list of weeds). The applicant must first seek advice from Council
- the tree is less than four metres in height and has a trunk diameter less than 300mm measured at one metre above ground, and has a canopy spread of less than four metres
- pruning of dead branches (Council encourages pruning works to be done by a qualified arborist where necessary and in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373-1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees)
- pruning of branches that are within the set parameters of electric powerlines, as required by clause 23 of the Electricity (Overhead Line Safety) Regulation 1991 (Council encourages pruning works to be done by a qualified arborist where necessary and in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373-1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees). The applicant must first seek advice from Council
- pruning and removal of fruit trees and flowering fruit trees not located on a heritage listed property or the Register of Significant Trees. The applicant must first seek advice from Council.
- pruning and reshaping of Cypress Pines that is not greater than 10 per cent of the whole canopy.
1.3 Consequences for removing, damaging or
pruning a tree without consent
If a resident or property owner removes, damages or prunes a tree without Council’s consent they may be liable for fines of up to $20,000. They may also be liable if they engage or allow another person to remove, prune or damage a tree.
The value of a significant tree must be the foremost consideration of any property owner who is considering building extensions or who may wish to modify or remove trees for some other reason. If a tree is listed in the Register of Significant Trees there will be a more stringent assessment.
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