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Trees


The community including residents, business owners and visitors to the area have identified they value trees and green spaces and want Council to be an environmental leader.

Council’s vision is for a local government area that prioritises the protection of trees for their ecological, aesthetic, social and economic contribution to our lifestyle, and encouraging international best practice for managing the existing tree population and planting of future canopy.

Council has comprehensive tree management processes in place, including an over-arching Tree Management Policy and the relevant sections of Council's Development Control Plans (DCPs).
 

Tree facts

Trees are an important contributor to the character of much of the Georges River area, attracting visitors and property buyers.

Trees are an important feature in the urban environment, providing shade and cooling temperatures by reducing the urban heat-island effect, where temperatures remain warmer longer due to the presence of many heat-absorbing surfaces such as roads and roofs.

Please view the following Frequently Asked Questions to assist with the most common tree management enquiries.
 

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I prune or remove a tree on my property?

    Works to any part of a tree, including cutting of tree roots, will require prior approval from Council unless deemed as exempt, as listed in Council’s Tree Management Policy.

    In Georges River Council, a tree is defined as having a:

    • Height of 3 metres or more, or
    • Circumference of 300mm (or greater) when measured at 450mm above the ground or
    • Branch spread of 3 metres or more.
    .

    To obtain approval to undertake tree works, an application must be lodged with Council. This may be either via;

  • What are the exemptions?

    Works to trees that do not require approval include:

    • Trees and vegetation that are under 3 metres in height and have a branch spread of less than 3 metres
    • Works to trees listed as undesirable species in Councils Tree Management Policy
    • Fruit trees (except for native species such as Macadamia)
    • Trees recognised as weeds under the Biosecurity Act 2015.


    For further information please refer to Council's Tree Management Policy.
     
    Note: Persons that carry out works to trees that are exempt are required to keep suitable evidence to prove the size, condition and species of the tree and the works undertaken. This can be photographs or arborist reports in the event of an inspection by Council. Failure to keep suitable evidence may result in council issuing penalty infringements.

  • Leaf, Fruit and Flower Fall
    Leaf, fruit and flower fall from trees is considered a natural process and as determined in the Land & Environment Court ‘Barker v Kyriakides [2007] NSWLEC 292’.

    "For people who live in urban environments, it is appropriate to expect that some degree of house exterior and grounds maintenance will be required in order to appreciate and retain the aesthetic and environmental benefits of having trees in such an urban environment. It is reasonable to expect people living in such an environment might need to clean the gutters and the surrounds of their houses on a regular basis. The dropping of leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds or small elements of deadwood by urban trees ordinarily will not provide the basis for ordering removal of or intervention with an urban tree."
  • How do I get a permit to prune or remove a tree?

    To obtain a permit to prune or remove a tree, you are required to:

    • Complete a Tree Pruning and Removal Application form and submit to council either in person at Hurstville or Kogarah Service Centres or it can be posted via the postal address; Georges River Council, PO Box 205, Hurstville NSW 1481
    • Payment of the associated fees is required for the application to be accepted by council. Cost of application is listed on our Fees and charges page.
  • How long does it take to get a permit?

    Council aims to complete the application assessment process and issue a permit within a six-week timeframe. Delays may occur when Council officers are unable to gain access to inspect the site or where information provided is inaccurate or incomplete.

    When Council receives an application to prune or remove a tree, a Council arborist will assess the application. A tree assessment will be undertaken which will include an onsite visual tree assessment, and an assessment of the individual circumstances relevant to the application.
     
    If permission is granted, a written permit will be issued by Council. This permit will include clear instructions about exactly what type of work can be completed and conditions that need to be complied with. Works undertaken outside of the prescribed conditions may constitute to a breach of consent and Council may issue a penalty infringement. 

    Once your permit is received, you can organise the works to be done. Council will not recommend any companies to carry out tree works.

    It is your responsibility to ensure the works are completed safely and to engage appropriately qualified and insured contractors where necessary.

  • My application was denied. What can I do now?

    Following councils site assessment determination (SAD), you can request a review of a tree application and pay the accompanying fees found in Council’s schedule of Fees and Charges.

    The review must be lodged within 6 months of the date of determination.

    The review must be accompanied by additional information or report(s), not already provided, in support of the application. This may include reports from an AQF5 qualified arborist, licenced building inspector or structural engineer.

  • My neighbour’s tree overhangs my property. Can I prune it?

    It is always best to approach your neighbour and speak to them about any issues you may have with their tree.

    Neighbours have the right to prune the branches of a tree overhanging their property, however prior approval by council may be required if the tree is 3 metres or more in height or has a branch spread of 3 metres or more.

    To obtain a permit from council you must complete and submit to council an application to prune or remove a tree on private property.

  • How can I resolve a tree dispute with my neighbour?

    Council does not have the regulatory powers to compel neighbours to prune or remove trees that may be causing damage or a nuisance to their neighbour, nor can Council mediate in disputes.

    Conflict over the management of private trees on neighbouring properties is the responsibility of both neighbours to discuss and resolve. Residents are firstly advised to contact their local Community Justice Centre to seek mediation.

    If that avenue is unsuccessful, they can make an application to the Land and Environment Court under the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006. The Act only applies to trees on private property and not Council owned trees.

    Further information can be found on the tree dispute principles website.

  • Can I remove or prune a tree on the council verge, nature strip or bushland area?

    No. Only Council can remove or prune public trees.

    If trees on the nature need pruning or removal, please lodge a service request. Alternatively, you can locate the Log it/Fix it icon on the main page of council website.

  • Can I plant a tree on the council verge, nature strip or bushland area?

    New street tree and park plantings are managed by council to ensure successful establishment and enhancement of canopy cover in the LGA. Council has strict assessment criteria that must be met to prevent conflict with roads, foot paths utilities and private property.

    We welcome requests to plant new street trees. New street tree requests can be lodged by the resident whose property adjoins the proposed tree. Please lodge a service request through our website. Council will assess the proposed planting location and determine if tree establishment is suitable and add to the planting schedule if the location is suited.

    Tree plantings are best done during the cooler months and are typically planted in batches between March and September dependant on the availability of tree stock. This allows for root growth and prevent the tree drying out before establishment.  

  • What can I do if a Council tree is causing damage to my property or pipes?

    Tree roots can occasionally impact stormwater and sewer pipes. It is important to determine the cause of the issue and who is responsible for its repair.

    A property owner is responsible for the services to their property. This includes sewer and stormwater pipes and services that run through public land.

    The most common cause of pipe leakage is old terracotta pipes. Movements in the surrounding soil cause joint failure or cracking causing moisture and nutrients to leak into the soil. Failure of joints between PVC and terracotta pipes is also common.

    Tree roots grow wherever conditions are favourable. When tree roots come into contact with water or nutrients they will grow with increasing concentration. Tree roots may sometimes enter pipes that have a fault

    Tree roots can enter services via leaking joints and blocked pipes, through deteriorated seals, where the joint has failed or been dislodged or through previous damage. It is rare for a tree root to crack into a properly installed and well-maintained pipe.

    The most efficient way to prevent root damage to your services is to replace the old terracotta pipes with new PVC or UPVC ones.

    • Where possible you should carry out the repairs and ask Council to investigate. If Council-owned trees have caused the damage, you may be able to claim to Council for the cost of the repairs.
    • Obtain at least two written quotations for the necessary repairs.
    • Carry out any necessary repair work to avoid any further damage and/or reduce the hazard. This does not mean the Council has accepted any liability for damages.
    • Notify Council of the scheduled works so that an appropriate officer can inspect the exposed pipe during the works. This will enable all parties to confirm if Council tree roots have caused the problem or if the pipe has been damaged for some other reason.
     

    Property

    If you believe a Council tree to be causing damage to private property, please contact Georges River Council on (02) 9330 6400 and ask the Customer Service Officer for an 'Incident Report Form'. Submission of this form will begin an investigation process. 

    Council recommends undertaking an exploratory dig from within your property boundary to confirm that Council tree roots are the cause of damages. Please submit photo evidence of any roots found, with your Incident Report Form.

  • Who is responsible for private trees overhanging Council land?

    Where private trees overhang Council property, footpaths or roadways, the maintenance of the tree is regarded as the private land owner’s responsibility and the owner should undertake pruning when requested by Council.

    If the owner does not comply with a request, an order for the pruning of overhanging branches can be issued by Council – especially if there is threat to life or property. Council may also undertake the necessary tree works and then recover the cost of the works from the tree owner.


 


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