Arborist Services in Sydney: Your Guide for Dealing with Council

Before you book arborist services to remove or even prune a tree on your property, you will almost always need to seek permission from your local council. In most cases, you’ll need a permit to have a tree completely removed.

If a neighbour’s tree has overhanging branches on your property and it doesn’t meet the size requirements, then you will also need to seek permission from the council before pruning it. It’s also a good idea to let you neighbour know that you plan to have the branches trimmed back. However, there is a limit to how much the tree can be pruned. Pruning a tree back to the property line is not allowed as it damages the tree.

There are substantial fines for not complying with the council regulations – so be sure to take the time to learn what is required.

The best place to start is with your local council’s website. You’ll be able to get information about which tree types and sizes will require a removal permit, and how to apply for a permit. If you believe the tree is a special or protected species, a tree arborist can advise you and help you with the council application.

The council application process does take time and can be a frustrating experience. Councils will generally approve applications under these circumstances:

  • If the tree is a safety hazard, likely to cause harm
  • If the tree is infested with insects
  • If the tree is rotting or very unhealthy
  • If the tree is causing severe damage to buildings, gutters, pipes, footpaths or roads

There are of course many other reasons why a homeowner would want to prune or remove a tree on their property. However, the council is very strict when it comes to approval, and these are some of the reasons an application would be rejected:

  • The tree is shedding leaves, fruit, bark, cones, or twigs
  • The tree is obstructing views
  • The tree is blocking sunlight

You shouldn’t need permission or a permit to remove dead branches or thin a tree by 10% per year, depending on the council.

Once you’ve submitted your application, it will be assessed, and a council officer may come to inspect your trees. If your request is approved, you’ll receive a permit in writing.

You may then request a quote from a professional to carry out the arborist services. Don’t forget to enquire about stump grinding as this is usually an add-on service, and always use licensed professionals that are fully insured in case there is an accident.

If a tree is dead or immediately dangerous, you don’t need to seek council permission to act. However, it’s important to take photos as evidence and prepare a statement that verifies the action taken was necessary to manage the risk and submit this to the Council. Otherwise, the council may pursue fines or legal action.

If you are ready to proceed, we can help you to apply for council approval quickly and without a fuss, so your job can start sooner. Contact TreeLink, your tree arborist services specialists and we’ll be only too happy to conduct a free on-site inspection within 48 hours.