Tree Pruning


In most circumstances a permit is not required from the City of Newcastle for pruning of trees or shrubs on private land, however a Pruning Specification form may be required to be completed.

The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (herein referred to as the Manual) is to be consulted before undertaking pruning works in all circumstances.

Pruning that does not require a pruning specification

A pruning specification is not required to prune trees and shrubs on private land where:

  • the tree or shrub is less than 5m in height
  • the pruning is to remove branches that are within 1m of a dwelling, formal path or driveway
  • the pruning does not alter the overall shape or structure of the tree
  • the branches removed are less than 100mm in diameter at the final cut
  • the final cut is at a branch collar or appropriate growth point (refer to Section 2.3 of the Manual)

Pruning requiring a pruning specification to be completed

For trees and shrubs greater than 5m in height a Tree Pruning Specification form must be completed and the following criteria must be met:

  • the property owners consent has been obtained.
  • the Tree Pruning Specification form has been prepared by an AQF Level 3 Arborist in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373 - 2007.
  • the pruning work is carried out by a minimum AQF Level 2 Arborist in accordance with the prepared specification and AS4373 - 2007.
  • the completed pruning specification form must be retained by the property owner for a period of two years.
  • if the tree or shrub is (or forms part of) a Heritage item, known Aboriginal object or place of Aboriginal significance, the completed pruning specification form must be submitted to the City of Newcastle along with a Heritage Minor Works form. Pruning work should not be undertaken until City of Newcastle endorsement has been granted in these instances.

Refer to Section 2.0 of Council's Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (Part A) for more detail.

All cuttings and/or mulch should be disposed of appropriately. Tipping of these materials on Council land is dumping which can incur penalties or prosecution.

Pruning or Clearing that requires a permit

A permit from the City of Newcastle may be required prior to clearing or pruning the following:

  • vegetation in a threatened ecological community or a threatened plant species listed under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 or Fisheries Management Act 1994, or
  • any other native vegetation including understorey plants, groundcovers and plants occurring in a wetland and is less than the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold identified under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

City of Newcastle will not accept applications for a permit for clearing or pruning of the above unless the applicant has obtained all appropriate licences, permits or approvals from the relevant Government authority. Refer to the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (Part C) for further information and guidance.

Don't top trees

Untrained or uninformed tree ‘loppers’ may urge you to cut back all of the branches to shape the tree, or may suggest that shorter trees will be less likely to fail in future wind storms. Topped or lopped trees are far more likely to fail in the future, and may die as a result of the impacts to the tree from the heavy cutting.

City of Newcastle will not support applications for lopping or topping trees. Lopping or topping trees can lead to penalties or prosecution.

Where can I get more information about trees?

For further information contact our Customer Service Centre on 02 4974 2000.