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Tree Management

Council trees and private trees

Overview

Trees are a very important part of the environment. Trees improve the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants and release oxygen into the air.

They also improve the appearance of the urban environment and provide shade in summer, which helps to lower the temperature, as well as provide habitat for native animals, birds and insects. It is for these reasons that we encourage tree planting and coordinate the retention of existing trees and a citywide tree planting program.

Looking after and managing trees requires input from the whole community.

Council trees and private trees

A Council tree is a tree located on council or public land such as parks, reserves or nature strips. A private tree is a tree located on your property.  

If you have an issue with a Council tree such as:

  • pruning, removal, branch collection, infestation
  • damage to private property caused by a Council tree
  • a bushfire management enquiry.

You can report the issue online (using one of the related information links), or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Before reporting issues, please read important information in the next section.

Tree planting on nature strips

You can ask Council to plant a tree on a nature strip through our customer request system.

Tree species include:

  • Elaeocarpus reticulatus (Blueberry Ash)
  • Trisainiopsis laurina (Water Gum)
  • Lagerstromia indica (Crepe Myrtle)
  • Callistemon viminalis (Bottlebrush)

Species to be planted are determined by our Open Space team and are dependent on current plantings that exist within the street.

You can also request a Council Tree by contacting Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Reporting Council tree issues

For any urgent requests relating to safety, please phone our Customer Service team on 02 4645 4000.

Tree pruning

Common reasons we will not action pruning requests:

  • Leaf litter, shedding bark, fruit fall, falling sticks/twigs onto lawns or gardens.
  • Reduce sap and bird/bat droppings on cars or dwellings. 
  • Unsubstantiated fear of large trees.
  • The removal of sound healthy trees to improve access to solar energy. Where tree pruning may improve solar capture capacity, Council may consider these requests on an individual merit.
  • Bush fire hazard control which has not been approved by Rural or NSW Fire Brigades.
  • Prune for aesthetic purposes.

Request Council tree pruning online, or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Tree touching a power line?

If the Council tree is touching a power line on the street, please call Endeavour Energy on 131 081.

Tree removal requests

Common reasons Council will not action removal requests:

  • Leaf litter, shedding bark, fruit fall, falling sticks/twigs onto lawns or gardens.
  • Reduce sap and bird/bat droppings on cars or dwellings.
  • Unsubstantiated fear of large trees.
  • The removal of sound healthy tree to improve access to solar energy. Where tree pruning may improve solar capture capacity Council may consider these requests on an individual merit.
  • Minor termite damage which can be successfully treated by other means.
  • Bush fire hazard control which has not been approved by NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

Request Council tree removal online, or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Tree infestations

Common reasons Council will not action Infestation/Insect requests:

  • Bees are a natural part of the ecological system and as such Council cannot eradicate them unless they have established a colony/swarm in a tree, which would greatly impact on a person’s life.
  • Council does not treat or poison caterpillars and insects on tree foliage, as this would be destructive to the life and other fauna. Generally this problem is a seasonal cyclical part of nature and our local environment encompassing a relatively short time frame of minor inconvenience.
  • Termites in council trees are inspected by a Council appointed officer, who will determine if the tree is to be treated by a Councils contract Pest Control Agent

Report Council tree infestation online, or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Damage to private property

Has a Council tree damaged your sewer and/or stormwater?

Council requires a plumber's report and sewer diagram to be attached/submitted to support your request.  If lodging an online request, please ensure you have an electronic version of these documents before proceeding.

Report damage to private property by a Council tree online, or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

Bushfire hazard enquiry

Are you in an Emergency and/or Imminent Danger?
If yes, please call 000.

eService Customer Requests are monitored during Council business hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

For any urgent requests relating to safety, please phone Council Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

If calling outside of Council business hours, you will be redirected to the Council's after hours call service and required to follow the prompts.

You can request the following:

  • Hazard reduction program
  • Long grass in adjacent reserve
  • Overgrown vegetation in adjacent reserve.

Enquire about Council tree bushfire hazard online, or contact Customer Service on 02 4645 4000.

What should I plant at home?

Planting native species has a number of benefits for the local environment. Council has developed a Native Gardening Guide(13MB, PDF) and Tree Planting Guide(2MB, PDF) to guide you in your planting choices and promote healthy ecosystems.

Did you know? one large tree can provide a day's supply of oxygen for a family of four and in one year, absorb 21 kilograms of carbon dioxide out of the air, thereby preventing it from going into the atmosphere.

Finding the right spot for your tree

Here's a few things to consider when choosing the right location:

  • Make sure there is room for the roots to grow: Aim to plant your tree no closer than 3 metres to your house to allow the roots to develop a strong base without growing against your house footings or stormwater and sewer pipes.
  • Maximise shade: Try to plant your tree in a location where it will filter direct sunlight during the hotter months.
  • Find a sunny spot: Most trees thrive in full sun, so avoid planting them in heavily shaded areas in your yard.
  • Look out for overhead power: Don't plant your tree directly below powerlines. Try and plant the tree at least 4-6 metres away from the lines.

Need to prune or remove a tree?

There are a number of approval pathways for the clearing of trees on private land in Campbelltown. This page and the accompanying guides are intended to help you determine which pathway applies. Council recommends you engage an arborist (qualification level AQF 5) to assist you in this process.

The first step in determining which approval pathway applies is to determine the type of protection the vegetation has. There are four types of protection and each has a detailed information sheet which can be accessed at the links below:

To find out which level of protection applies, it is recommended an arborist be engaged who may email Council at dutyplanner@campbelltown.nsw.gov.au with the following details:

  1. Customer contact details
  2. A site plan or marked up aerial photograph of the property showing which trees are proposed for clearing
  3. Photos of the tree
  4. Whether the clearing is pruning or removal of trees
  5. The reason for the clearing
  6. Advice if the tree has any hollows, is occupied by native wildlife or is on a slope greater than 20%.

Council aims to respond to these enquiries within five business days.

Technical notes for clearing of trees on private land

  1. If the clearing of vegetation meets the requirements for more than one assessment pathway, then the order of priority in determining which assessment pathway applies is as follows:
    1. If a development application is required for any reason, follow the Development Application Process
    2. For clearing that exceeds the BOS thresholds see Native Vegetation Panel Permit(418KB, PDF)
    3. Declared Vegetation see Vegetation Permit from Council(411KB, PDF)
    4. Declared Tree see Tree Permit from Council(537KB, PDF)
  2. The guides provides advice on the process for permits and development applications for vegetation clearing. Nothing in the guide fetters the discretion of Council in the use of its powers under applicable legislation.
  3. “Clearing” in the guide has the same broad meaning as in State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in non-rural areas). It means to:
    1. cut down, fell, uproot, kill, poison, ringbark, burn or otherwise destroy the vegetation, or
    2. lop or otherwise remove a substantial part of the vegetation
  4. Declared vegetation includes vegetation other than trees. This page does not address this type of declared vegetation. For guidance on the process for declared vegetation other than trees please contact Council’s Duty Planner.

Neighbourhood tree disputes

Council has limited capacity to intervene and resolve nuisance regarding overhanging tree branches and depositing of leaf litter onto your premises from trees on an adjoining property (private tree).

If a neighbour's tree is causing concern or damage to property or underground pipes, it's recommended that you discuss the problem with your neighbour first, as they may be unaware of the concern or damage the tree is causing.

  • Step 1 - Talk openly and honestly about your concerns
  • Step 2 - Mediation
  • Step 3 - Local Court
  • Step 4 - Land & Environment Court

It is important to note that approval may be required from Council for the removal of vegetation.  

Step One

Try to avoid confrontation with neighbours by talking openly and honestly about your concerns. A friendly letter is also suggested if verbal communication is not within your best interests. Negotiate with your neighbours about the best solution to fix the problem.

Please Note If you are unable to contact your neighbour, either they do not live at the dwelling in question or the block is vacant land, Council can assist. If you draft a letter to the neighbour, Council will forward the correspondence on your behalf.

Make sure your letter discusses the issues regarding the tree or trees, what concerns you have and what the implications are. Also include your contact details and any attachments like arborist reports or photos.

Attach a cover letter directed to Council, requesting that the letter be passed on the landowner of the nominated property on your behalf.

 Step Two

If talking or letters do not solve the dispute, then you might like to seek the help of an independent person who can discuss the issues with both parties and point the way to agreement.  The mediation process with your neighbour is not legally binding, is made in good faith and has no minimal costs. The Community Justice Centres (1800 990 777) can fulfil this function (refer to Community Justice Centre Information and contacts for more advice). If you feel that negotiation is not an option or has failed, it is permissible, under the "right of abatement", to cut a neighbour's overhanging branches or intruding roots back to the property boundary line. Make sure the tree is not subject to any restriction by Council prior to commencing works. 

Please note the following considerations if you take this course of action:

  • The neighbour is not obliged to contribute to the pruning cost.
  • The neighbour owns the overhanging branch, fruit or root material.
  • The person carrying out the pruning would be liable if the tree is damaged, as a result of the pruning.

Professional advice is also worthwhile. If you needlessly kill the tree or make it structurally unstable you may be liable. Even though you may have been entitled to cut off the branch overhanging the property boundary and the tree's death was unintentional, you may find you will have to compensate you neighbour. The removed limbs and roots remain the property of your neighbour - so set an agreement on the disposal of material with your neighbour prior to the start of any works.

Always remember - crossing the common boundary without permission from your neighbour is trespassing.  

 Step Three

If the neighbour's tree has caused damage to your property - such as lifted concrete driveways, damaged foundations or branches that have destroyed your roof. The next step is to apply to the Local or Magistrates Court for an order requiring your neighbour to remove the tree. Just remember this involves court proceedings and evidence will need to be gathered. If a request to enter the neighbour's property to carry out the pruning is refused, an application may be made to the Local Court under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 2000

Access for pruning or removal of a neighbour's tree is considered under the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Bill 2006. Always remember - the situation is more likely to be resolved if you approach it fully informed and ready to negotiate. 

Step Four 

The Land and Environment Court. The Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Bill 2006 applies only to trees on land identified:

  • as "residential", "village", "township", "industrial" or business" in the Campbelltown Local Government Area.  Under this action, the affected land owner may "...

apply to the Court for an order to remedy or prevent damage to property on the land, or to prevent injury to a person, as a consequence of a tree situated on adjoining land."

The Court must be satisfied with physical evidence that the affected landowner has made "...a reasonable effort..." to reach agreement with the neighbour and that the tree has caused, or is likely to cause, damage to property or injury to a person.

Under the Land and Environment Court's definitions, the following must be proven:       

  • A neighbour's tree may be considered to be causing a nuisance if its roots or leaves block or damage pipes or cause other damage.  (any activity that interferes with, or damages the right to enjoy or use one's property, is a nuisance).       
  • A neighbour may be considered to be negligent, and therefore liable if a tree or branches cause damage to an adjacent property, and no effort has been made to address the dangerous state of the tree. 

Proving nuisance or negligence may be difficult, expensive and time-consuming. It is preferable to discuss any problems relating to trees with your neighbour before considering Court action.

Always consider mediation prior to considering court.   

Fallen trees after storms

Powerful storms can fell trees and branches. Our Removal of fallen trees and branches following storm events brochure (548KB, PDF) provides information on how to dispose of trees and branches following a storm event. If you need assistance with large fallen tree branches, please contact the SES on 132 500.

Storm Debris Clean Up

A storm event can result in a large amount of debris falling from trees.   Council is only able to assist residents with storm debris clean up when a storm has been officially declared by the NSW State Government. At all other times, it is the responsibility of the resident to dispose of tree debris caused by inclement weather.

In the event of a storm being officially registered at a State level, Council can provide services to assist with the clean up of debris. Council requires notice of the required debris clean up within three (3) weeks of the registered storm event occurring. For enquiries, please contact Council’s City Works Division on 02 4645 4699.

If a storm has not been officially declared, tree debris can be disposed of in  the garden organics bin provided by Council. Garden waste that is too large   for the garden organics bin may be disposed of in a kerbside clean up service. Garden organics must be tied and bundled into 1-metre lengths. Large whole branches or trunks (eg palm tree trunks) thicker than 15 cm in diameter will not be accepted. There is a 1 cubic metre limit on the amount of material that will be collected and clean ups must be arranged in advance before placing material on the kerb. For enquires, please contact Council’s Waste and Recycling Services Section on 02 4645 4645.

Garden organics not suitable for placement in the garden organics bin or collection through Council’s clean up service can be disposed of at one of the local waste management centres. Please note that a fee may be charged for this service.

Significant Tree Register 

Council has a Significant Tree Register that lists certain trees within the Campbelltown Local Government Area that have been classified as having significant values related to their visual, historic, botanical, cultural or commemorative significance.

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