• Northern Beaches, Sydney

Tree Permit Northern Beaches


Trees are an integral part of the beautiful landscape in the Northern Beaches. They not only add aesthetic value but also contribute significantly to the environment. However, when it comes to tree removal, tree pruning, or other tree-related activities on private land, it's crucial to understand the local laws and regulations. In many cases, you may need to obtain a tree permit from the Northern Beaches Council before proceeding with any work.

In this detailed guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about tree permits in the Northern Beaches. We'll cover when you need a permit, what you can do with and without a permit, how to apply for one, and more. By the end of this post, you'll have a clear understanding of the tree permit process and how to manage your trees responsibly.

What is a Tree Permit?

A tree permit is a legal document issued by the local council that grants permission to carry out specific activities related to trees on private property. These activities may include tree removal, tree pruning, tree lopping, or other tree management practices.

The primary purpose of the tree permit system is to ensure that the region's trees are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner. It helps protect the biodiversity, maintain the natural beauty of the area, and prevent unnecessary or harmful tree removal or damage.

When Do You Need a Tree Permit in the Northern Beaches?

In the Northern Beaches, trees and vegetation on private land are protected under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021 Chapter 2 Vegetation in non-rural areas. This policy regulates tree removal and pruning that is not associated with a development application but still requires a permit from the Council.

Generally, you need a tree permit for the following activities:

  • Tree Removal: Cutting down and removing a tree from your property.

  • Tree Pruning: Selectively removing branches from a tree to maintain its health, safety, and aesthetics.

  • Tree Lopping: Indiscriminately cutting tree branches to stubs or lateral branches not large enough to assume the terminal role.

However, there are some exceptions where you can carry out tree work without a Council permit. Let's explore these scenarios in the next section.

What You Can Do Without a Council Permit

You can remove trees without a permit in the following circumstances:

  • The tree is under 5 meters in height.

  • The tree is on the Exempt Tree Species List.

  • The tree is in an area where the Council has authorized removal as part of a hazard reduction program.

  • The tree is required to be removed under other legislation, such as the NSW Rural Fires Act 1997 or the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

  • The tree can be removed under the 10/50 Legislation if your property is mapped in the 10/50 entitlement area.

You can also prune trees or clear vegetation without a permit in the following situations:

  • Reasonable pruning of up to 10% of a tree's canopy within 12 calendar months, in accordance with Australian Standards AS 4373-2007.

  • Removal of deadwood from a tree.

  • Removal of any species of parasitic mistletoe or parasitic plant from any part of a tree.

What You Can Do With a Council Permit

If you obtain a Council permit, you may be allowed to carry out the following tree work:

Tree Removal

The Council may permit tree removal in the following circumstances:

  • A qualified arborist report is delivered with the application to remove significant trees.

  • Removing hazardous trees.

  • Removing trees demonstrated to be in conflict with built structures after engineering alternatives have been considered.

Tree Pruning

With a Council permit, you may be allowed to:

  • Prune trees in a manner not detrimental to their health and in accordance with Australian Standards.

  • Conduct maintenance pruning to remove dead, diseased, or dying branches.

  • Selectively prune to remove branches causing conflict, like building encroachment.

  • Carry out root pruning to reduce damage to built and natural structures.

  • Prune for service lines, vehicle sight lines, and Roads and Maritime Services requirements.

What Council Will Not Permit

It's important to note that there are certain tree works that the Council will not approve, even with a permit application. These include:

Tree Removal

  • Tree removal for Complying Development Certificates.

  • Tree work without the signature of the owner or their agent on the application.

  • Removing healthy, stable trees or trees for views.

  • Removing trees for solar access, leaf, fruit or sap drop, bird or bat droppings, or damage to sewer pipes or built structures.

  • Removing trees for allergies unless they can be medically proven and linked by a certified specialist.

Tree Pruning, Clearing, and Alteration

  • Pruning trees contrary to Australian Standards 4373.

  • Pruning beyond what a particular species will tolerate, e.g., figs pruned by more than 10% are predisposed to sunburn.

  • Requests for lopping or topping trees.

  • Alteration of soil levels within a tree's root zone.

  • Tree work for emotive reasons.

How to Get a Tree Permit in the Northern Beaches

If you want to prune or remove a tree on your property, follow these steps to obtain a tree permit:

  1. Check the exemptions to see if your tree work qualifies.
  2. If the tree is not exempt, complete a tree permit application and obtain the property owner's consent.
  3. If you wish for a Council officer to be present during the inspection, a fee will apply. Review the Council's fees and charges.
  4. For vegetation clearing, first check the exemptions. If the vegetation is not exempt, contact the Council's Biodiversity & Planning team to discuss the proposed works and permit process.
  5. As part of the online application, you'll need to upload a completed Site Plan with details and owner's consent. Download the PDF template.

What to Do If Your Property is on the Biodiversity Values Map

Many properties within the Northern Beaches Local Government Area are included on the NSW Biodiversity Values Map, which identifies areas of high biodiversity value under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. If your property falls within this map, you may require a permit from the Native Vegetation Panel rather than the Council for tree removal.

A permit from the Native Vegetation Panel is likely required if:

  • Your property is within the Biodiversity Values Map area.

  • The trees proposed for removal are native to NSW.

  • The trees are not considered dying, dead, or a risk to human life or property.

  • The trees are not required as habitat for native animals.

  • Tree removal is not proposed as part of a development application.

For more information about obtaining a permit from the Native Vegetation Panel, visit the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

Handling Concerns About a Neighbour's Tree

If you have concerns about a neighbour's tree, it's best to talk to your neighbour first. The Council does not have the authority to act in disputes between neighbours. If your neighbour does not agree to remove or prune the tree, you can contact the Community Justice Centre for mediation assistance.

If the mediation process is unsuccessful and your neighbour's tree is damaging your property, you may need to seek intervention from the court through the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006, administered by the Land and Environment Court of NSW. This is the only authority that can resolve tree disputes between neighbours.

Tree Permits and Compliant Development

The Council does not inspect trees for compliant development. You must meet the criteria for compliant development before carrying out any tree work. Instances where a permit or approval is not required are outlined in the "What You Can Do Without a Council Permit" section of this guide.

It's important to note that the Council does not remove public trees for compliant development. This needs to be considered before moving ahead with any application.

Illegal Tree and Native Vegetation Works

Conducting tree work or native vegetation clearing without the appropriate permits can result in substantial fines, even if you're on your own property. If you're unsure whether you need a permit, contact the Council's Tree Management Team or Biodiversity and Planning team for guidance.

Affordable Tree Permit Services in the Northern Beaches

At Affordable Tree Services Northern Beaches, we understand that navigating the tree permit process can be daunting. That's why we offer comprehensive tree permit services to help you through every step of the process.

Our team of experienced arborists and tree management experts can:

  • Assess your trees and advise on whether a permit is required.

  • Assist with permit applications, including providing necessary documentation and liaising with the Council on your behalf.

  • Carry out tree removal, pruning, and other tree work in compliance with permit conditions and local regulations.

  • Provide advice on tree management best practices to maintain the health and safety of your trees.

With our affordable tree permit services, you can have peace of mind knowing that your tree work is being carried out responsibly and in full compliance with the Northern Beaches Council regulations.

Service Description Benefits
Tree Permit Assessment Our arborists assess your trees and advise on permit requirements. Ensures compliance and avoids fines.
Permit Application Assistance We help with permit applications, including documentation and Council liaison. Saves time and hassle, increases chances of approval.
Tree Work Execution We carry out tree removal, pruning, and other work in compliance with permit conditions. Ensures safe, efficient, and compliant tree work.
Tree Management Advice Our experts provide advice on best practices for maintaining your trees. Promotes tree health, safety, and longevity.


Obtaining a tree permit is a crucial step in responsibly managing the trees on your property in the Northern Beaches. By understanding when you need a permit, what you can do with and without one, and how to navigate the application process, you can ensure that your tree work is carried out safely, legally, and in a way that preserves the natural beauty of our region.

If you need assistance with tree permits, tree removal, pruning, or any other aspect of tree management, don't hesitate to contact the friendly team at Affordable Tree Services Northern Beaches. With our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction, we'll help you care for your trees while staying compliant with local regulations.

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