Tree Works permit
On this page:
- When do you require a Tree Works permit?
- When don’t you require a Tree Works permit?
- Which trees require the Tree Works permit
- Applying for the permit and what you need
- Other permits that you may need
- Further information and relevant documents
If you are looking to remove a mature tree on private property, or prune more than 15 per cent of the canopy of a mature tree on private property, you will need to apply for a Tree Works permit.
You may also need additional permits on top of the Tree Works permit based on any planning overlays, recent planning permits, or other situations involving the tree.
You can check whether you will need additional permits in our section on other permits that you may need.
Reason for the permit
The Tree Works permit was introduced as a protective measure due to large trees being lost in Merri-bek which has caused a declining tree canopy. In Council’s 2018 General Local Laws, clause 2.5 says that in order to perform works on a mature tree you must have a Tree Works permit.
You can read more about clause 2.5 in the 2018 General Local Laws documents below:
- Moreland City Council General Local Law 2018 (PDF 816Kb)
- Moreland City Council General Local Law 2018 (DOC 618Kb)
The aim of this permit being introduced is to protect and enhance tree and vegetation cover and reverse the overall decline in Merri-bek’s tree canopy.
For the pruning or removal trees planted on private property, there are only two reasons why you may not need to obtain a Tree Works permit:
- The tree you wish to prune or remove can not be considered a mature tree (see definition below), or
- The tree is considered to be mature, but you only intend to prune less than 15 per cent of the tree’s canopy, you will employ an independent qualified Arborist (minimum AQF Level 3 qualification), and you retain before and after photos of the pruning as a record to verify the works (Council may request these).
If you are looking to prune more than 15 per cent of the canopy of a mature tree, or remove a mature tree, you will need a Tree Works permit.
Definition of "mature tree":
A mature tree is a tree on private property which is greater than 8 metres in height and has a trunk diameter greater than 40 centimetres (measured 1.2 metres from the ground).
A Tree Works permit application incurs a fee. These fees are reviewed yearly.
The following application fees apply for the period 2020/21:
Applying for the permit
Apply to Council if you want to remove or prune a mature tree on private property in Merri-bek.
- Apply for a Tree Works permit online
- As part of the online application process you will need to upload digital files including an independent qualified Arborist report (not a quote).
- If the tree is also damaging plumbing or infrastructure, including footpaths, you will need a report (not a quote) by a licensed plumber or engineer which shows that the tree is causing the damage.
- As part of the online application process you will also need to pay the permit application fee by Visa or MasterCard. Alternatively, you can elect to have an invoice sent to you.
- When Council receives your application, you will receive an automated email confirmation that your application has been received.
You do not need to register as a user and sign in to Council Online Services to apply for a Tree Works permit. However, if you do become a registered user, you won't need to re-enter your personal information and you can keep track of your requests and applications on any device.
What you need to apply for a Tree Works Permit
Outline the reason you want to prune or remove a mature tree.
A professional report from an independent qualified Arborist
The property owner is responsible for obtaining the independent qualified arborist report. A report requires more than a quote, please follow the link below to the Merri-bek Arboricultural writing guide for the details that need to be provided.
An independent qualified arborist report is required as part of the application, unless:
- You are pruning less than 15 per cent of the tree’s canopy, you employ a qualified arborist (minimum AQF Level 3 qualification) to do the work, and you retain before and after photos of the pruning as a record to verify the works (Council may request these)
An online search is the best way to find a qualified arborist in your local area. Make sure that the arborist is adequately qualified with an Arboriculture qualification to complete an Arborist’s report (AQF Qualification Level 5, Diploma or above).
Once you employ an arborist, you can provide them with Moreland Arboricultural Report Writing Guide (DOC 37Kb) which provides further information about what needs to be included in the report.
A professional report from a licensed plumber or engineer
If the mature tree you are looking to prune or remove is damaging plumbing or infrastructure, including footpaths, then you will need to provide both a qualified Arborist report AND a report by a licensed plumber or engineer which shows evidence that the tree is causing the damage.
The property owner is responsible for obtaining the licensed plumber or engineer report.
This report requires more than a quote. It may include evidence of hand excavation around the pipes and foundations to demonstrate where the roots are growing and the effects they are causing.
Details of the trees to be removed
If you are proposing to prune or remove more than one tree, please attach a listing of all the trees and their details. You will need to include the tree/s height, diameter, type and location within the property.
Tree replacement plan
If you are proposing to remove a tree, you must replace the tree on your property With an appropriate canopy tree. A range of tree options can be found using the tree finder tool.
The new tree may be planted in a different location. You will need to provide a plan or sketch of the location of the new trees. Moreland’s Urban Forestry Officer is available to discuss replacement tree choices, just phone Council on 9240 1111.
Once your application is submitted, Merri-bek’s Urban Forestry Officer will review the application and make an assessment.
The decision considers the property owner’s needs, any risk or damage to people or property, and the impact of the tree removal on the environment and local amenity.
Council may give approval if:
- the tree is dead, damaged or about to fall or cause some other immediate danger
- there are problems with roots blocking sewerage or other pipes that are not reasonable to solve through a different method; or
- the tree is threatening a building or structure.
A planning permit may also be required to prune or remove a tree if:
- The property is subject to a recent planning permit with conditions that relate to trees
- The property is located within one of the following planning overlay areas:
- Heritage Overlays
- Significant Landscape Overlays
- Native vegetation (Clause 52.17 Planning Scheme)
- Environmental Significance Overlays
- Erosion Management Overlays
If a tree on your property is protected through the provisions of a planning permit or an overlay in the Moreland Planning Scheme, Council permission is required before undertaking works on the tree.
It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure the conditions of a planning permit or overlay are met.
Council has the power to prosecute anyone for breaking a tree preservation order associated with an overlay or permit condition. This includes removing, cutting down, topping, lopping, ring barking or causing any damage to the tree directly or indirectly.
If you have a query about the process for pruning of mature trees on private property or questions about a particular tree on private property, email Merri-bek Trees or phone Council on 9240 1111 and an Urban Forestry Officer will get in touch.