Tree & Vegetation Removal
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
Under Councils DCP, you must not ringbark, cut down, top, lop, remove, injure or wilfully destroy any tree or other vegetation without Council permission. Failure to obtain permission can lead to fines of over $1 million and legal action under the EP&A Act.
Removing or pruning a tree, or clearing native vegetation on private property
If you want to prune or remove a tree on private property you may need Council approval first. For example, if the tree is over 3m high, no matter what kind of tree it is, you need written Council permission before pruning or removing it. If you don't, you can be fined up to $1.1 million by a court.
Council has two types of permits:
- Tree removal/pruning - for the removal of trees in urban areas and up to 5 trees in rural areas. Read our Tree removal and Vegetation Clearing Fact Sheet.
- Vegetation Clearing - for clearing of Native Vegetation in Rural Areas that is more than 5 trees with or without shrubs and other native, ‘non-tree’ vegetation. If the vegetation is Native but does not contain any ‘Trees’, then this form must be used if the area of clearing is greater than 10m2. For more information about biodiversity in Penrith visit our Biodiversity and Bushcare webpage.
- Most applications are determined within 28 days unless further information is required.
- Approvals are valid for 12 months only.
Penrith City Council will assess your application based on the information you provide and a physical inspection of the tree/vegetation. If approval is granted, conditions will depend on the site, number of trees/amount of vegetation, etc.
Note: Tree means:
- a living perennial plant that has a height of three (3) metres or more or a trunk circumference exceeding 300mm at 400mm above ground level, or
- individual trees, gardens or native vegetation listed as Significant Trees and Gardens.
How to apply for approval to remove a tree
Note: You will need to include a sketch/site plan of your property showing the locations of the tree(s) you wish to remove and will require the property owner's consent. You may wish to provide an arborist's report and photos to support your application. It is recommended to have this information prepared before you start your online application.
- Complete an Online Application or
- Download our Tree Pruning or Removal Application Form and submit it in person at Councils’ Customer Service Centre.
Fees For Tree Removal please refer to Council's Fees & Charges document.
NOTE: It is illegal to clear native vegetation without approval. ‘Native Vegetation’ includes native trees, shrubs, grasses, ground covers and wetland plants.
How to apply for approval to clear native vegetation/bush
Depending on your circumstances there are three key pathways to apply to remove native vegetation on your property. Please read this information thoroughly before making your application
- If the vegetation removal is to facilitate a development activity (such as building a house or putting in a pool), then it must be included as part of your Development Application.
- If the clearing is not associated with a development that requires a DA, and the area exceeds the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold (see table below) or is vegetation identified on the Biodiversity Values Map then you must apply for approval through the Native Vegetation Panel, not Council.
Biodiversity Offset Scheme Thresholds
Minimum lot size
Threshold for clearing
(above which you must apply through the Native Vegetation Panel)
Less than 1 ha 0.25 ha or more 1 ha – less than 40 ha 0.5 ha or more 40 ha – less than 1,000 ha 1 ha or more 1,000 ha or more 2 ha or more
- For all other clearing of Native/Indigenous Vegetation in Rural Areas that is more than 5 trees with or without shrubs and understory, or is native shrub/scrub that is greater than 10m2, you must apply to Council for a Permit. This is regulated through the Vegetation SEPP and Council’s DCP. A Flora and Fauna Assessment Report must accompany your application.
Read our Flora and Fauna Assessment Reports Fact Sheet for information on what Council requires.
How to apply for approval to clear vegetation
- Complete an Online Application or
- Download our Vegetation Removal Application Form and submit it in person at Councils’ Customer Service Centre.
Fees For Vegetation Clearing please refer to Council's Fees & Charges document.
Clearing Native Vegetation on private property
It is illegal to clear native vegetation without approval. Clearing of bush and native vegetation is regulated in a number of ways, including:
- State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) – Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas (2017) – The Vegetation SEPP works together with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 and Council Development Control Plans (DPCs) to create a framework for the regulation of clearing of native vegetation in NSW.
- Council Development Control Plans (DCPs) - Under the Penrith DCP, it is illegal to ringbark, cut down, top, lop, remove, injure or wilfully destroy any tree or other vegetation without Council permission. Where the vegetation is native, clearing includes shrubs, ground covers or wetland plants. Failure to obtain permission can lead to fines (maximum penalties can be over $1 million) and legal action under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
- Other legislation:
- Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016
- Water Management Act 2000
- Fisheries Management Act 1994
- Rural Fires Act 1997
- Heritage Act 1977
- Biosecurity Act 2015
- Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
- State Environmental Planning Policy No 19 - Bushland in Urban Areas
- SREPP 20 – Hawkesbury-Nepean River
NOTE: Where the vegetation is native, clearing includes shrubs, ground covers or wetland plants.
What can I do without Council approval?
You do not need approval for the following:
- trees or other vegetation that the Council is satisfied is dying or dead and is not required as the habitat for native fauna (Note: dead/dying trees will not automatically receive approval for removal. It will first need to be demonstrated that the tree or trees are not habitat for native animals, especially threatened species);
- a tree or other vegetation that the Council is satisfied is a risk or imminent threat to human life or property;
- a tree or other vegetation where the trunk is located within 2m of an existing dwelling, as measured from the main trunk of the tree or other vegetation to an external enclosing wall of the existing dwelling;
- trees on the list of exempt trees and vegetation provided in Councils DCP;
- a tree that is an edible fruit tree requiring annual pruning or is a tree within a timber plantation;
- controlled weeds under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and identified in the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017 - 2022; and
- the removal of trees and other vegetation to maintain approved dams or bushfire asset protection zones.
Read our Protected and Exempt Trees and vegetation Fact Sheet for more information.
Clearing for Bushfire Protection – the “10/50 rule”
The NSW Rural Fires Amendment (Vegetation Clearing) Bill 2014 was introduced on 1 August 2014, introducing the 10/50 rule. Visit the Rural Fire Service website for details and to check if your property is in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area. These laws allow property owners in a designated 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area to:
- clear trees on their property within 10m of a dwelling wall, without seeking approval*; and
- clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50m of a dwelling wall, without seeking approval*.
If your property is not shown to be within the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Area, then the normal tree/vegetation removal application process applies as outlined above.
*You may only clear vegetation in accordance with the 10/50 Code, otherwise the clearing is illegal:
- You may not remove trees (or prune more than 25% of the original canopy) on slopes greater than 18 degrees;
- Landowners have a duty of care in the appropriate management of soil erosion and landslip risks when clearing trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Code.
- Herbicides may only be used in accordance with certain conditions.
- Landowners have a duty of care to avoid cruelty and harm to native, introduced or domestic animals when clearing trees and vegetation in accordance with the 10/50 Code. It is important that landowners are aware that clearing of trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Code can result in harm to native animals and loss of their natural habitat. Landowners who clear trees and vegetation under the 10/50 Code are not exempt from prosecution for harm to protected fauna, or for deliberate cruelty to animals. Operating in accordance with the 10/50 Code does not absolve the landowner from their responsibility for avoiding harm to protected fauna or deliberate cruelty to animals.
- You may not clear vegetation on Wetlands identified in the Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 20 – Hawkesbury Nepean River (No 2 –1997) as mapped and provided by the Department of Planning and Environment;
- The clearing of vegetation including trees is not allowed within 10 metres of a river that is 2 metres or more in width between the highest opposite banks, or within 10 metres of a lake.
- Records of Critically Endangered Plants as mapped and provided by the Office of Environment and Heritage;
- The following Critically Endangered Ecological Communities found in the Penrith LGA, as mapped and provided by the Office of Environment and Heritage:
- Agnes Bank Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
- Cumberland Plain Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion
- Or any other Critically Endangered Ecological Community, if mapped and provided by the Office of Environment and Heritage
Trees on public land