Frequently Asked Questions



Most disputes between neighbours about trees involve overhanging branches or roots that affect or pose a potential risk to a neighbour's property.  If you are concerned about a tree on a neighbouring property, the best way to resolve the issue is to discuss it with your neighbour.  Your neighbour may not be aware that there is an issue, and in most cases will be willing to help you resolve your concerns.  Read More...

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Where a tree is posing an immediate and imminent danger to people or property you are not required to lodge a Tree Management Application . This is for any works to make safe a prescribed tree where there is an immediate threat of injury to persons or damage to property, either during or within 48 hours following a severe event.


The following details should be provided to Council as soon as possible by contacting our Customer Services on 4232 0444 or emailing :

  • tree species
  • property address where the tree is located
  • date of works
  • photographs of tree/s
  • why the tree/s works were carried out.


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If you remove or prune a tree without a tree permit you are breaching the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.  Council may issue a Penalty Infringement Notice or commence a prosecution in the Local Court or the Land and Environment Court against all parties involved in the breach of the Act.  Significant penalties apply for a breach of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.  You may also be liable to a penalty for engaging a contractor to do the work on your behalf.

The Kiama Council DCP 2012, Chapter 3 – Preservation and Management of Trees & Vegetation covers a tree from the roots through to the top of the Crown.

Examples of a breach are: removal or pruning of a tree without a valid tree permit; poisoning of trees; and root damage caused by construction or building works.

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Unless there are access issues such as a keyed gate or dogs on the site then you are not required to be at the property when the inspection occurs.  Access may be made in your absence. 

Where there is an access issue, staff will make contact with you beforehand to make any necessary arrangements.  There is no guarantee that Council Officers will be able to accommodate all requests to meet on site.  As you will appreciate it is not always possible to predict how long inspections will take so it is often difficult to schedule times.  And sometimes an emergency situation will arise calling the Officer away from normal inspections.

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Yes.  A ratepayer can receive two free trees a year.  Giveaway days are held twice a year at Council's Second Hand Saturday events.

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If the tree is 3.0 metres or more in height or has a diameter of 200mm or more (at 1.0 metre above the ground) or has a branch spread of 3.0 metres or more, you require a Council permit to remove/prune the tree.  A Tree Management Application should be completed and sent to Council with the prescribed fee in order for Council’s Tree Management Officer to inspect. 

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Kiama Council manages the care and protection of trees and vegetation on public land.  If a tree located on public land needs pruning or removing a Tree Management Application is not required.  Simply phone Council’s Customer Services on (02) 4232 0444 or email and advise staff of your request.  Your request will be processed and sent to the appropriate person.

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Tree preservation and management

Yes.  Section 3 of Kiama Council DCP 2012, Chapter 3 – Preservation and Management of Trees & Vegetation provides circumstances, and types and species which are exempt and which do not require a permit.  There is also an Exempt Tree Species list provided at Appendix 1 of Chapter 3. 

However, Council requires notification of your intent to remove/prune any tree on the Exempt Tree Species List.  Such notification is to include the address where the tree is located, the species and the date of the works.  Notification is required prior to the works commencing by either phoning Council’s Customer Services on (02) 4232 0444 or notifying Council by email with the subject “Exempt tree works”.

Council does ask that you take a photo prior to works as evidence to support your actions in case of complaints.

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There is an appeal process open to you, either through Council or by appealing to the Land and Environment Court.

To seek reconsideration by Council you must lodge a review within 3 months of the date of the determination and supply any additional supporting information (eg report from a consulting arborist or structural engineer).

Any application for reconsideration will be reviewed by a qualified Council assessment officer other than the original assessing officer.  It may be determined under delegated authority or by Council.

Refer to Tree Management Review fact sheet

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In determining an application, Council’s Tree Management Officer and Consulting Arborist take into consideration a number of factors, including but not limited to:


  • whether the growth habit or mature size of a tree is undesirable in a given situation (i.e. power lines, root interference with services, infrastructure or building).

  • whether the tree species is appropriate in terms of its proximity to dwellings, adjoining dwellings or other infrastructure.

  • The condition of the tree, where a tree is dead or dying, or where it is assessed to pose a hazard.

  • The ecological significance of the tree, including the trees habitat value.

  • The local significance of the tree, threatened flora species, endangered population or endangered ecological community, will require, in addition to a Development Application, an Arborist report prepared by a Consulting Arborist, as well as a Section 132 Permit in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

  • Public infrastructure damage being caused by the tree, which is considered significant and which cannot be overcome by any other reasonable and practicable means.

  • Damage to significant structures on private land where mitigation of the damage cannot be overcome by any other reasonable or practicable means.

  • Any other reason at the discretion of Council's staff, which can be justified on either technical or legal grounds.


In all instances, public safety will be the highest priority

It must be noted that any inspection undertaken by Council’s Tree Management Officer and/or Consulting Arborist is at ground level and is a visual tree assessment only.  You may be required to provide further independent reports to support your application depending on the issue.

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The requirement to apply for a tree permit aims to protect, preserve, manage, and enhance the environmental amenity, special landscape characteristics, unique vegetation qualities, and the ecological values of the Kiama Local Government Area.  The benefits of trees are numerous and include:

  • controlling erosion

  • minimising runoff from stormwater

  • absorbing air pollutants

  • conserving energy use around buildings

  • reducing global warming by tying up carbon

  • providing habitats for wildlife

  • contributing to the amenity of Kiama by using trees such as Norfolk Island Pines, Figs and Cabbage Palms

  • screening ugly outlooks eg. carparks and industry

  • providing privacy

  • framing beautiful vistas

  • or simply looking beautiful throughout the changing seasons

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Tree removal

The removal of a dead tree and dead wood does not require a Tree Management Application, as long as the tree is not a threatened species habitat or a habitat tree.  You should also ensure the tree is not leafless because it is a deciduous tree.


Council does ask that you take a photo prior to works as evidence to support your actions in case of complaints.

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A tree permit is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue.

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Council tree inspections are usually carried out on a Tuesday by Council’s Tree Management Officer and a Consulting Arborist.  The townships within the Municipality are visited on a rotational system.  A Tree Management Application will usually be processed within 21 working days from the date of receipt of the application form (and prescribed fee).  Once an inspection has taken place you will be advised in writing of the determination of your application.  Bad weather or busy workloads may result in a longer wait. 

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If a tree has been determined for removal as part of a Development Application you do not need to lodge a tree permit application as the removal of the tree will be included in the Development Consent conditions.

Additional reports e.g. consulting arborist, geotechnical, plumbing, etc. may be required.
Please refer to C14-C21 of Chapter 3.

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