Tree, Shrub and Vegetation Removal

Page hero image

The following information provides an overview for tree, shrub and native vegetation removal in the Newcastle local government area, and a link to the application form/s.

In all circumstances, the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual is to be consulted before engaging consultants or lodging application forms.

Tree and shrub removal on your property

The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (herein referred to as the Manual) is separated into three parts based on the land on which the tree, shrub or other vegetation is located, and the type of vegetation present.  The two parts relevant to tree or vegetation removal on private land are:

  • Part A - Private Trees:  provides guidance on the management of trees and shrubs located on private land.
  • Part C - Native Vegetation Communities:  provides guidance on the management of native vegetation communities or assemblages on private land.

Part A - Private Trees

Private Tree Removal - Exempt Criteria (no application required)

In accordance with Part A of the Manual there are some instances where approval is not required for the removal of trees or shrubs on your property.  To remove a tree or shrub without approval on your property the tree or shrub must meet one of the following criteria:  

  1. The tree or shrub poses an immediate risk to life or property due to a demonstrated sudden change to its structure as a result of a severe storm or wind event.  Documentation for removal must be in accordance with Part A Section 3.3 (1) of the Manual. The person carrying out the removal must complete a Report Storm Damage Tree Removal Form.  Clear photos are required to support the removal of the tree and must show the tree in context, its relationship to dwellings, other trees or structures, and clear images of the damaged sections of the tree.   The completed storm damage form and photographic evidence must be retained for at least 2 years.  You are not required to submit the completed form and evidence to Council unless the storm damaged tree is (or forms part of) a heritage item, in which case you must submit your completed storm damage form and evidence to Council within 5 working days of the tree removal.
  2. The tree is dying or dead, and the requirements of Section 3.3 (2) of Part A of the Manual have been met. Clear photos are required to support the removal of the tree and must show the tree in context, its relationship to dwellings, other trees or structures, and clear images showing that the tree is dying or dead.   A Dead or Dying Tree Removal Form must be completed.  You are not required to submit the completed form and evidence to Council, however it must be retained for at least 2 years. 
  3. The tree is less than 3m in height or with a circumference at breast height (1.4m above ground level) less than 450mm for a single trunk tree, or less than 300mm for each trunk of a multi-trunk tree. See Section 3.3 (3) of Part A of the Manual.
  4. The shrub is less than 5m in height and is not part of a native vegetation community.
  5. The tree or shrub is located within 3m of the wall of an existing principal building (excluding carports, garages, pergolas, fences, retaining walls and the like) on the land where it is situated or on adjacent privately owned.  See Part A Section 3.3 (5) of the Manual.
  6. The tree or shrub is part of native vegetation previously planted for agriculture, agroforestry, forestry, horticulture or woodlot purposes.

Note:  The above criteria items 1 to 6 do not apply to trees or shrubs on public land such as street verges, parks or bushland reserves - they apply only to trees located on privately owned land.  Residents are not permitted to remove public trees or shrubs under any circumstances (which includes engaging a contractor to undertake the work on your behalf).   If you have concerns about a public tree please contact Council and one of our qualified arborists will inspect the tree and provide you with an outcome of the inspection.  If the Council arborist determines that a public tree requires removal the work will be undertaken at Council's expense.

Private Tree Removal - Application Required

Owners of trees or shrubs that do not meet any of the above criteria will need to submit an application form as outlined below. 

  • For removal of three or less trees (or shrubs) with replacement planting:  complete and lodge a Private Tree Removal Application Form.  You will also need to provide a clear diagram indicating the location of the tree/s to be removed, the reasons for removal and the location and botanical name of the replacement tree/s you intend to plant.  Please note:  trees you have recently planted cannot be considered as part of this application - replacement tree planting should not be undertaken until after you have been granted approval to remove a tree.  Please refer to Part 4 of the application form.    
  • For removal of more than three trees (or shrubs), or for removal of three or less where no replacement planting is proposed: complete and lodge a Private Tree Removal Application Form.  You must also provide a current Level 5 Arborist Report which demonstrates removal is the only option after considering all other reasonable options (in accordance with the Manual). Please note:  the arborist report you provide must have been completed within the previous six months.  Your application will be denied if the arborist report is older than six months and you will be required to submit a brand new application. Please refer to Part 5 of the application form.

Removal of trees/shrubs for future development is not permitted.  Tree/shrub removal associated with a development will be assessed as part of the Development Application process.

In addition, heritage listed trees or shrubs, including trees or shrubs that form part of a heritage item, an Aboriginal object or are located within a place of Aboriginal significance are not covered by circumstances 2 to 6 above.  A completed Heritage Minor Works form and Appendix 7 (completed by a qualified arborist) are to be lodged with Council to apply for removal in these circumstances.

Part C - Native Vegetation Communities

Part C of the Manual is to be consulted where the removal of more than three tree/shrubs is within a native vegetation community, wetlands, riparian zones or endangered ecological communities on private land.  In these instances a Native Vegetation Removal Form must be completed and submitted to Council.

A removal permit will not be issued if the vegetation pruning or clearing exceeds the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold (refer to Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 for further information), or is on land identified by the Biodiversity Values Map as defined by the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017.  Please confirm with the Office of Environment and Heritage:  Biodiversity Offsets Scheme entry requirements.

For further information on tree removal refer to our frequently asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get approval to remove a tree on my property?
How much does it cost?
What is an arborist?
Hiring a suitably qualified person
Guidelines for preparing an arborist report for tree removal
What happens next?
Can I clear my block of land before I put my development plans to Council?
Can I place mulch or green waste on Council land?
Trees on neighbouring private land
What is a Native Vegetation Complex/Community