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Trees on My Property

Hornsby Shire is known for its leafy urban character and significant bushland areas. Council is committed to protect and preserve these unique aspects of our Shire.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Area’s) 2017 under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 prescribes that tree and vegetation works are to be processed using a permit system administered by Council through its Development Control Plan.

These tree preservation measures are designed to protect the local amenity, landscape character and natural history of Hornsby Shire. The importance of trees is often taken for granted along with the benefits provided to the community such as social wellbeing, attracting people and visitors to the area, increasing property values, maintaining the environmental health of our region by protecting soil and water supplies, storing carbon and providing habitat for wildlife. Indigenous trees and many introduced species provide food, shelter and protection from predators for birds, animals and insects.

This means an application form must be submitted for a permit to prune or remove trees protected by Council's Tree Preservation Measures Part1B.6.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following exemptions do not require an application for a permit for tree and vegetation works. These exceptions do not apply to properties located in Heritage Conservation Areas or where the tree and vegetation forms part of an Ecological Endangered Community:

  • The removal of a tree deemed by Council:
    • To be dead and not required as the habitat of native fauna based on evidence provided by the tree owner in writing or email including photographic evidence

      OR
    • Where it is satisfied by evidence provided in writing or email; with recorded photographic evidence or written evidence provided by a qualified Arborist (AQF.5); that the tree in question is an imminent risk to human life or is likely to cause substantial damage to property in the near future.
  • A resident may undertake the removal of species listed under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015.
  • A resident may undertake Pruning of a tree by less than 10% of the foliage area in accordance with Australian Standard Australian Standard AS 4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees AS 4373-2007 not more than once annually.
  • A resident may undertake removal of or pruning of a tree where the base of the trunk of the tree at ground level is located within 3 metres of the foundation of an approved building (excluding detached garages, carports and other buildings ancillary to a dwelling house).
  • A resident may undertake the removal of a tree less than 3 metres in height not located within native vegetation.
  • List of exempt species as prescribed in Table 1B.6(a) of the Hornsby DCP.

Table 1B.6(a) Exempt Tree Species in Hornsby Shire

Botanical name

Common Name

Acacia baileyana

Cootamundra Wattle

Acacia saligna

Golden Wattle

Acer negundo

Box Elder

Ailanthus altissima

Tree of Heaven

Alnus jorullensis

Evergreen Alder

Arecastrum romanzoffianum

Cocos Palm

Celtis sinensis

Hackberry

Cinnamomum camphora

Camphor Laurel

All edible fruit and nut trees except native species such as Acmena spp (Lilli Pilli), Syzygium spp (Lilli Pilli) Elaeocarpus spp (Blueberry Ash) or Macadamia spp (Macadamia Tree)

Fruit and Nut trees

Cotoneaster spp.

Cotoneaster

Eriobotrya japonica

Loquat

Erythrina spp

Coral tree

Ficus elastica

Rubber tree

Gleditisa triacanthos

Honey Locust

Lagunaria patersonii

Norfolk Island Hibiscus

Ligustrum spp

Privet

Populus spp

Poplar

Pyracantha augustifolia

Firethorn

Robinia pseudoscacia

Golden Robinia

Salix spp

Willow

Schefflera actinophylla

Umbrella Tree

Schinus spp

Peppercorn Tree

Toxicodendron spp

Rhus

All tree work must be carried out in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees.

10/50 Clearing Entitlement and Code of Practice

Your property may have access to the NSW 10/50 Entitlement.  It is the home owner's responsibility to use the RFS online tool to find out if their property is 10/50 area and to ensure compliance with the 10/50 Code of Practice to have access to the entitlement to prune or remove trees and vegetation on their property.

The 10/50 entitlement online tool and code of practice can be found by visiting the Rural Fire Service vegetation clearing page .

Failure to undertake works in accordance with the code of practice may result in Council taking regulatory action in the Land and Environment Court or receive an on-the-spot fine.

Please note that irrespective of the 10/50 entitlement and compliance with the Code of Practice there are some trees that are still protected, for example if the property is a heritage site, is within a heritage conservation area or is assessed to be Regionally Significant, Threatened Species, Endangered or Critically Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC or CEEC).

These exemptions above do not apply to:

  • All lands mapped as Biodiversity on the HLEP Terrestrial Biodiversity Map, or
  • Threatened species or land that contains native vegetation which is habitat for threatened species, populations or ecological communities listed in Schedule 1and 2 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and protected matters listed under the Commonwealth EPBC Act 1999, or
  • Work that is contrary to a development consent that requires trees to be retained, or
  • Work to a tree that is or forms part of a heritage item or heritage conservation area, requires approval from the Council pursuant to the provisions Clause 10.3 of the Vegetation SEPP and/or Clause 5.10 of the HLEP.
  • Dead trees (located within an endangered or critically endangered ecological community (EEC).

NB: Major work to any tree that is or forms part of a Heritage Item (i.e. work that is not minor as described by Clause 5.10(3) of the HLEP) requires a Development Application.

If the property is located in a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) or has heritage conditions or the property is heritage listed then a tree and vegetation application is required.

Where are the Heritage Conservation Areas and heritage items located in Hornsby Shire?

The Shire’s six Heritage Conservation Areas are:

  • Beecroft/Cheltenham Heritage Conservation Area (includes some parts of Pennant Hills)
  • Barker College Heritage Conservation Area
  • Hornsby West Side Heritage Conservation Area (Mt Errington Precinct, Peats Ferry Rd Precinct, Pretoria Pde Precinct)
  • The Crescent, Pennant Hills Heritage Conservation Area
  • Wahroonga Heritage Conservation Area
  • Wahroonga (North) Heritage Conservation Area.

To check if your property is located in a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) or has heritage conditions or the property is heritage listed, ring Council's Customer Service on 9847 6666.

Please note there are special protections for trees in Threatened Species, Endangered Ecological Communities and Critically Endangered Ecological Communities as follows:

  • All trees (including dead trees), regardless of size or proximity to an approved dwelling, that are characteristic of or form part of Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs or CEECs) are subject to protection and require consent for works.
  • Tree preservation measures also apply to trees that provide habitat for threatened species.
  • Council administers legislative obligations to ensure the protection of threatened species, populations and EECs listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1975 and Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
  • The provisions of the Hornsby Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plan that exempt many tree species do not apply to trees characteristic of or forming part of regionally significant or endangered ecological communities or threatened species and populations or trees providing habitat for threatened species.
  • The Terrestrial Biodiversity Map identifies some of these communities however protected species may also occur outside of the mapped areas.
  • The removal of EEC or CEEC trees may still require a licence or approval from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage or Commonwealth Department of Environment.  Severe penalties or imprisonment may apply for breaches of these Acts.

For further enquiries regarding these matters please contact Council's Natural Resources Unit on 9847 6832 or the Office of Environment and Heritage on 131 555 (for NSW Callers) or Commonwealth Department of the Environment on 1800 803 772.

To check if your property is located in a Endangered Ecological Community buffer or Threatened Community buffer, ring Council's Customer Service on 9847 6666.

If you are the tenant of a property you will need to obtain the written consent of the property owner(landlord) or the owner must complete the owner consent part on the application form.  Fees apply to permit applications and payment needs to accompany the application form.  The results of the application will be sent to the owner of the tree not the applicant.

If the trees are growing on a property owned by Strata or Company title the application form must be signed by an authorised officer.

Units/ Flats/ Town houses (in excess of 3 strata subdivided properties)
  • If the tree to be removed and/or pruned is located on common property, then the permission of the Body Corporate is required under its seal on letterhead.
Strata between two properties
  • If the tree to be removed and/or pruned is located on shared common property, then the permission of the adjoining owner is required.
  • If the tree to be removed and/or pruned is located wholly on the owner's property, then the permission of the adjoining owner is not required.

If you undertake works to protected trees or vegetation without a permit you may be taken to the Land and Environment Court or receive an on-the-spot fine. You may also be ordered to plant new trees and maintain them until mature.

During the natural process of a tree’s growth leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds or small elements of deadwood will fall.  This will not form the basis for permitting the removal or intervention with an urban tree.

A permit may be issued for the removal of a tree if it is causing substantial damage to your property. This can include damage to approved foundations, in-ground swimming pool or slab driveway by roots, as well as damage to the roof by falling branches.

An "approved foundation" is a concrete slab that supports any approved residential building, garage, commercial premises or community building with walls. The term also applies to brick supports located on strip footings or pad footings/supports that support any of the above structures.

For the purposes of our tree preservation measures, the visible wall immediately above the buried foundation is taken to be the foundation.

Substantial damage also does not apply to footpaths, twin-strip driveways, retaining walls, above ground pools, car ports or buildings on stump, pillar or pole foundations.

It is not considered “substantial damage” if it can be fixed by pruning the tree and carrying out minor repairs to the damaged structure.

The removal or pruning of a tree is allowed where the base of the trunk of the tree at ground level is located within three (3) metres of the foundation of an approved building.

An application form must be submitted for a permit to prune or remove trees protected under Council's tree preservation measures.

The best method is General Crown Maintenance or Crown Modification as prescribed in the Australian Standard ‘Pruning of Amenity Trees’ (AS 4373-2007) as follows:

  • General crown maintenance to prune deadwood/crown thin/selective/formative/ i.e. to reduce branches from touching the building.
  • Crown modification pruning refers to reduction /lifting/ remedial pruning i.e. damaged, declining or disease limbs.
  • Where an exemption applies all works must be less than 10 percent of the trees total foliage area of the canopy and must not alter the structure, size and height of the tree.
  • When undertaking tree works, the use of equipment that will wound the bark and conductive tissues must not be used on, or in sections of a tree to be retained, (ie: spurs, spikes, hooks, chained platforms lowering systems or any other tools that will penetrate or severely bruise bark and conductive tissue).

Where a permit is issued Please ensure all approved pruning work are carried out in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4373- 2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees.

Where trees or shrubs from private property overhang a public nature strip or walkway and the tree is causing obstruction to pedestrians, Council may contact the tree owner to request that they prune the vegetation.

To request that Council investigate private trees or shrubs overhanging public space please make a request for pruning or register a service request online or contact Customer Service on 9847 6666 during office hours.

An application form must be submitted for a permit to prune or remove trees protected under Council's tree preservation measures.

View Application Process

More Information

If you have any questions please phone Council on 9847 6666 during office hours (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm).