Trees in Camden FAQ

Answers to common questions about trees are outlined below. For a printable PDF version click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prune or remove a tree on my property?

Under the Camden Development Control Plan (DCP) 2019 a tree is defined as any plant which meets one or more of the following requirements:

  • Is three metres or more in height;
  • Has a circumference of 300 millimetres or a diameter of 100 millimetres at a height of one metre above the ground surface; or
  • Has a branch span of three metres or more.

Works to prune or remove a tree, including any work on tree roots, will require Council approval.

In most cases you will require a Tree Permit Application, unless the vegetation is located in a heritage area or has high biodiversity values.

Council offers a pre-application service to assist residents in determining what type of approval may be required, if any exemptions are relevant and identify any other requirements.

What are the exemptions?

There are some exemptions from having to obtain Council approval including;

  • Routine pruning of trees or shrubs that form a continuous hedge;
  • A tree that is confirmed dead by a qualified arborist, as long as it doesn’t contain any hollows or habitat resources;
  • A tree that harbours fruit fly;
  • Trees identified as a noxious weed, including;

o          Privet (Ligustrum spb).

o          African Olive (Olea africana).

o          Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos).

o          Cocos Palm (Syagrus rhomanzofianum).

o          Chinese Celtis (Celtis sinensis).

  • The destruction or removal of a tree within half a metre of the boundary between land owned or occupied by different persons, for the purpose of enabling a survey to be carried out along the boundary by a registered surveyor;
  • Minor pruning of branches less than 50 millimetres in diameter as long as:
  • Pruning is undertaken in a way that does not impact on plant health; and
  • If the tree is located on a neighbouring property, the permission of the owner has been sought prior to pruning work.

How do I get approval to prune or remove a tree?

You will need to complete the appropriate application form, either a Tree Permit Application or a Development Application to Prune/Remove Trees and Vegetation.

In most cases you will require a Tree Permit Application, except where the vegetation is located in a heritage area or it has high biodiversity values. In some cases, your application may not be able to be determined by Council and may need to go to the Native Vegetation Panel.

Council offers a pre-application service to assist residents in determining what type of approval may be required, if any exemptions are relevant and identify any other requirements.

Supporting information may be required and fees payable with the application. A Council Officer will then inspect the tree and make a determination.

How long will it take to get a permit?

Applications may take up to 28 days to process. This includes an inspection by a qualified Council arborist and completion of the assessment process.

Once determined, you will receive a permit which will outline what the approval allows and any other requirements.

If the determination is different to what was applied for, a Council Officer will contact you to discuss.

What can I do if I disagree with a Council decision on my application?

It’s important to note the findings relate to the tree health and condition at the time of the assessment. If there is a significant change you can contact Council for more information, however you will not be able to make a similar application for a period of 12 months.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision made by Council, you can appeal to the Land and Environment Court within three months after the date on which you receive the determination.

Who can undertake pruning and tree removal?

Council requires all tree removal and pruning works to be undertaken by a qualified arborist holding a minimum AQF Level 3 Certificate in Arboriculture to ensure that all relevant Australian standards are met. It’s also a good idea to get more than one quote and check that they are provided on company letterhead with an ABN number.

You should confirm your arborist has a current qualification and operates in accordance with Australian Standards for pruning of trees (AS 4373:2007) and WorkCover’s Code of Practice 2007 Standards for Tree Work. You should also ensure that your arborist holds Public Liability and Workers Compensation Insurances.

You can find a qualified arborist at:

Can I prune or remove a street tree or tree in a reserve?

Trees and shrubs located on public land is protected by the Local Government Act 1993.

Residents cannot prune or remove any Council street trees, as well as trees and managed vegetation within a nature strip, public reserve or park.

You can request an inspection and assessment of a tree on public land by lodging a request via email, or by calling Council.

Can I request planting of a street tree?

Council undertakes an annual street tree planting program to continue to build our urban tree canopy. You can request a street tree via email or by calling Council.

As part of the request, Council will ensure there is adequate space for a street tree. The officer will consider where the tree could be positioned to ensure access and sight clearances are retained. Tree species are also carefully selected.

The trees are dropping debris into my property, what can I do?

As a property owner, it is expected that some degree of house or exterior ground maintenance is required to retain surrounding trees. This is supported by the NSW Land and Environment Court with judgements that acknowledge that trees drop leaves, bark, sticks, flowers, fruit and sap as part of the natural cycle of life. On its own, this does not provide a basis for intervention with an urban tree.

The trees are close to my house, can I remove them?

You will need to lodge a Tree Permit Application (if it’s a private tree) or a Customer Request (if it’s a public or street tree) if you wish to have a tree removed.

My neighbour’s tree is damaging or hanging over my property. What do I do?

The first thing to do is talk to your neighbour about any issues you may have in regards to their tree. Council cannot resolve disputes over trees and damage to private property.

It’s important to have as much detail as possible to inform your discussion with your neighbour. This could include an arborist report showing that the tree is causing damage, photographs, videos and quotes for the cost of removal of the tree and/or the repair of damage.

Under Common Law neighbours have the right to prune the branches of a tree overhanging their property to the property boundary line. If the tree is less than three metres tall, you do not need Council permission to undertake this pruning. If the tree is larger, you will need to lodge a Tree Permit Application and have it signed by the owner of the property the tree is located on.

Where the tree dispute can’t be resolved, the matter should be referred to the Community Justice Centre for assistance with mediation.

Ph: 1800 990 777 http://www.cjc.justice.nsw.gov.au

If mediation is unsuccessful you may wish to make an application to the NSW Land and Environment Court under the provisions of the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006. http://www.lec.justice.nsw.gov.au

I’m getting solar panels, but the trees are going to cause too much shade. Can they be removed?

A Council-owned tree will not be removed to increase solar access within private property. Council understands shading of solar panels may affect the efficiency of your panels however the benefits trees provide to the environment is considered very important. Talk to your solar installer to see if you can use alternative roof space, mounts or micro inverters to optimise the efficiency of your system.

Council tree is damaging my stormwater or sewer pipes, what can I do?

We recommend you engage the services of a qualified plumber (at your own cost) to employ a CCTV line camera to find the cause of the root intrusion. Once this is completed, please send a DVD copy of the footage to Council’s Risk Management Officer for assessment. Without evidence of damage a claim will not be substantiated. Click here for more information.

No pruning or removal of woody tree roots should be undertaken without consultation with Council.

In a large number of cases, Council has found tree roots often grow into the join between two pipes, which indicates that the seal in this join has failed.

What do I do if there are termites in a tree near my property?

You can lodge a request with Council to have the tree inspected. We will consider the;

  • location of termites;
  • proximity to homes and other structures; and
  • type of termites.

If termite treatment is required, it doesn’t usually require tree removal. There are more than 300 species of termites in Australia, and only a small number of these cause problems to homes, with most providing an important role in nature. It’s also important to remember it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that their property is protected against termite infestation including regular inspections by a licensed pest controller.

Should I put grass clippings around trees on private or council land?

Grass clippings should be placed into a compost bin or disposed of through your green waste service. While mulching is beneficial to trees for moisture retention and nutrients, mulching with grass clippings is not recommended as it can cause root and collar rot and the tree may become unstable.

If mulch is applied, it should be spread as wide as possible and no deeper than seven to 10 centimetres. Applying mulch flush against the trunk will damage the bark.

What can I do if I suspect that a tree has been removed, pruned or damaged without Council approval?

Contact Council and provide as much information as possible, including the address, contact information and what work is or has been undertaken will help staff determine if an approval has been provided and follow up if additional information is required.