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Vegetation/tree removal

If your tree removal requires a Development Application (DA), please refer to the development process.

The State Environment Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP) regulates clearing of native vegetation in non-rural areas of NSW where it is not associated with a DA. This policy works together with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Act 2016.

Find out if you need a permit, licence or approval

These steps outline what you need to do to check if you need an approval, permit or licence to remove trees or vegetation from your property.

Step 1: Check if the vegetation is on land that is non-rural

Check the zoning of your land in the Eurobodalla Local Environmental Plan 2012 on the NSW Planning Portal or check if the land is excluded on the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map.

  • If the land is zoned RU1 or RU4, or is not excluded the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map, contact the South East Local Land Services Office.
  • If the land is excluded in the native vegetation regulatory map (eg zoned RU5, R2, R3, R5, B1, B2, B4, B5, IN1, SP1, SP2, SP3, RE1, E2 or E4) the Vegetation SEPP applies.
  • Continue to step 2.

Step 2: Are you proposing to clear vegetation that is a risk to human life or property?

If yes, special exemptions may apply.

If Council is satisfied the vegetation to be cleared is a risk to human life or property, an approval or licence is not required. Council must still be notified prior to the removal of any tree(s) and a risk assessment must be carried out by a suitably qualified arborist.

  • Please contact Council’s Development Help Desk for advice by email or phone 02 4474 1231.
  • Otherwise, continue to step 3.

Step 3: Check if the removal will exceed the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme thresholds

Check if the proposed clearing exceeds the Biodiversity Offset Scheme thresholds (ie, it is mapped on the biodiversity values map or the proposed area of clearing exceed the thresholds).

  • If the vegetation is mapped on the biodiversity values map or the area of vegetation removal exceeds the thresholds, approval from the Native Vegetation Panel (NVP) is required. Contact the South East Local Land Services Office.
  • If the biodiversity offsets scheme thresholds are not exceeded, continue to step 4.

Step 4: Check if the Tree Preservation Code applies to the land

Check if the Tree Preservation Code applies to the land. If a Development Control Plan applies to the land, it will state whether the Tree Preservation Code also applies. The Tree Preservation Code applies to land zoned R2, R3, R5, E2, E4, B1, B2, B4, B5, RU5 or RE1.

If the Tree Preservation Code applies to your land, you may need to apply to Council for a permit to remove the vegetation.

  • Please contact Council’s Development Help Desk for advice by email or phone 02 4474 1231.
  • If the Tree Preservation Code applies to your land continue to step 5.
  • If the Tree Preservation Code does not apply to land, or a permit is not required from Council for the type of clearing proposed (eg an exemption applies), continue to step 6.

Step 5: Check if the vegetation proposed to be cleared is declared by the Tree Preservation Code

Unless the activity or vegetation is exempt as set out in section 5 of the Tree Preservation Code, a permit is required to remove or prune:

  • all trees (native and non-native)
  • all native vegetation (including trees, understorey plants and groundcover) is declared on land zoned RE1 Public Recreation, E4 Environmental Living or E2 Environmental Conservation by the Eurobodalla Local Environmental Plan 2012.

If the Tree Preservation Code declares the vegetation you propose to remove, and no exemptions in section 5 of the Tree Preservation Code apply, you need to apply to Council for a permit to remove the vegetation.

  • Please contact Council’s Development Help Desk for advice by email or phone 02 4474 1231.
  • If the Tree Preservation Code does not declare the vegetation you propose to remove, or the activity or vegetation is otherwise exempt from requiring a permit from Council continue to step 6.

Step 6: Check if other licenses or approvals are required

Use our GIS mapping tool to check if the vegetation is likely to be a habitat for threatened species or a threatened vegetation community, or contact an ecologist or environmental consultant to check for you.

  • If the vegetation is likely to be habitat for threatened species or is a threatened vegetation community, you will need to apply for a Biodiversity Conservation Licence from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Check if development consent is required to remove vegetation eg, due to heritage value or being mapped as a coastal wetland or littoral rainforest, which are shown on Council's GIS mapping tool.

  • Please contact Council’s Development Help Desk for advice by email or phone 02 4474 1231.

Check the deposited plan for the property to see if a section 88B instrument applies requiring the vegetation to be retained. If you do not know if there is a s88B instrument registered on title, or how it applies to the vegetation, you will need to seek independent legal advice.

Frequently asked questions relating to tree removal

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Do I need a licence, permit or approval to remove a tree/vegetation?

Is my property in an urban area?

The Vegetation SEPP only applies to non-rural land under the Eurobodalla Local Environmental Plan 2012. This includes land zoned: RU5, R2, R3, R5, B1, B2, B4, B5, IN1, SP1, SP2, SP3, RE1, RE2, E2, or E4.

If your land is zoned RU1 or RU4, the Local Land Services Act 2016 applies - contact the South East Local Land Services Office for more information.

How to check the zoning of your land

Who do I apply to?

  • If vegetation removal is below the minimum lot size clearing threshold and not on the Biodiversity Values Map you may require a permit from Council (refer to the next section on this page, 'How do I apply to Council for a permit to remove vegetation'). Please contact the Development Help Desk for advice:
  • If the vegetation is mapped on the biodiversity values map, or the area of clearing exceeds the thresholds, you may require approval from the Native Vegetation Panel (NVP).

Minimum lot sizes and clearing thresholds

If the minimum lot size associated with the property is:

  • less than 1 hectare, then the clearing threshold is 0.25 hectares or more
  • 1 hectare up to 40 hectares, then the clearing threshold is 0.5 hectares or more
  • 40 hectares up to 1000 hectares, then the clearing threshold is 1 hectare or more
  • 1000 hectares or more, then the clearing threshold is 2 hectares or more.

How do I apply to Council for a permit to remove vegetation?

First you should check Council's Tree Preservation Code to see if it applies to your proposed vegetation removal.

If the Code applies, you will need to complete an application form for a permit to remove or prune trees. A permit will only be granted if the criteria in the Tree Preservation Code are met.

To apply to Council for a permit to remove vegetation:

  1. Complete a tree removal application form. This must be signed by the land owner.
  2. Mark all vegetation proposed to be removed on site.
  3. Prepare a tree plan showing all trees and native vegetation on the site and what is proposed for removal.
  4. Obtain required evidence eg, an arborist report and/or an assessment of the significance of the impacts to threatened species or ecological communities.
  5. Submit the form, tree plan, supporting evidence and the processing fee to Council.
  6. A Council representative will inspect the site and the vegetation proposed to be removed.
  7. Council will assess the application and advise you of the outcome within 28 days.

Fees and lodgement

You will need to pay the application fee when lodging your application with Council. Fees for a tree removal application are detailed in Council's fees and charges document for the current financial year.

  • in person: at Council's customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please arrive before 4pm so there is sufficient time to check and lodge your application.
    You will also need to pay your application fees at the time of lodgement.
  • by email: council@esc.nsw.gov.au
  • by post: Eurobodalla Shire Council, PO Box 99 Moruya NSW 2537.

What if I don't need a permit from Council?

Vegetation clearing or pruning that does not require a permit from Council or approval from the Native Vegetation Panel, may still need a licence from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment if the tree is a threatened species, habitat for threatened species (eg, hollows in trees), or forms part of an endangered ecological community.

Possible Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs) are shown on Council's online mapping system.

Who do I contact to ask about removing a tree on public land?

Council is responsible to take reasonable measures, within budget limitations, to manage the risks arising from trees on all land under Council's control.

Any requests to remove or prune trees on public land are managed in line with our Tree Risk Management on Council Controlled Land Policy and Code of Practice. The Code of Practice informs how we deal with your request.

If you have any concerns about a particular tree please contact us:

  • by post: Eurobodalla Shire Council, PO Box 99 Moruya NSW 2537
  • by email: Council

For more information, contact our Development Help Desk: