Street tree maintenance

bioStreet trees require attention in order to maintain their health and appearance, and Council acknowledges that they can create problems by blocking light, hindering access, interfering with electricity lines, etc. In addition to its regular maintenance schedule, Council responds to requests for work on specific trees.

However, given the high number of such requests and the limited staff and resources available, work is prioritised according to urgency. Issues of public safety must be given more immediate attention.

Accordingly, every request for street tree work is placed in one of the following categories:

UrgentBroken branches over property or footpath
Potentially Hazardous     Branches contacting electricity lines
Routine MaintenanceCanopy requires thinning or pruning off property
Unnecessary WorkPruning for views; pruning to reduce leaf or flower drop

Work placed in the routine maintenance category will be carried out as priorities allow and the availability of staff and equipment in particular areas. There may therefore be some delay in attending to such requests. However, they remain on record and will be attended to.

Council will not prune a tree to create a new view. View pruning will only be considered where it is requested to retain a previously established view and there is a history of the identified tree/s having been pruned by Council to restore the pre-existing view.

To request pruning or removal of trees in streets, road closures, parks or reserves, please eithercall the Customer Service Centre on (02) 9083 8000 or report it.

Pruning for health and safety

Pruning is an effective way of eliminating a number of risks including low branches near footpaths and roads, structural defects such as dead branches or other limbs, storm damage, canopy thinning, root pruning works and sight lines clearances for signs, traffic lights and street lights. Tree pruning occurs for practical and health and safety reasons and is carried out by Council's qualified arborists to Australian Standard AS 4373- Pruning of amenity trees.

To provide safe access for pedestrians and vehicles, street trees are pruned to the following maximum clearances:

  • Pedestrian access to 2.5 m
  • Vehicle access at kerbside of 3.5 m increasing to 4.5 m at the centre of the road
  • Branches overhanging into properties to be 3 metres clear of structures.

Please click here for Council's tree pruning guidelines.

Pruning for clearance of electricity wires

Pruning under electricity cables to the minimum clearances is authorised under Section 48 of the Electricity Supply Act 1995 which effectively overrules council-originated Tree Preservation Orders, Development Control Plans and other environmental planning instruments, but not State heritage or protection orders.

Pruning works within three metres of power lines can only be carried out by suitably qualified personnel and in Waverley’s streets the safety clearance standards are:

  • 1.5 metres from low voltage overhead mains, and
  • 0.5 metres from low voltage overhead Aerial Bundled Cables (ABC).

Public consultation and notification

Whenever public trees may require removal, particularly if it will affect the visual appeal of streetscapes or adjacent properties, the following process is to be followed:

  • Council’s Tree Operation Supervisor will initially assess any request for work on public trees.
  • If the request involves the possible removal of a tree/s it is also referred to Council’s Tree Management Officer for assessment and issuing of a permit, if removal is deemed necessary.

If removal is recommended a detailed notification procedure is followed. This procedure does not apply for trees assessed as being in poor condition or dead.


Vandalism of public and private trees not only affects adjacent neighbours but also whole streets and blocks; the wider community also suffers through the gradual attrition of mature trees from the urban landscape. Council presently responds to incidents of tree vandalism by:

  • Investigating all reports and gathering information
  • Sending notification letters to residents requesting further information
  • Erecting signs in streets and parks highlighting the damage to public trees
  • Publicising significant and blatant attacks through local newspapers
  • Prosecuting through the courts wherever possible.

Refer to Council's Tree Vandalism Policy.

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