When Council will and will not remove a tree
Preserving existing trees is of prime importance to Council and practical techniques are used to maintain the health of trees in streets, on nature strips, and open space.
When Council will consider removing a tree
There are only limited circumstances where Council will consider removing a tree.
Council will consider removing a tree if:
- It is diseased or dying and there are no remedies to save the tree.
- It is a safety hazard to the public.
- Planting by a resident doesn't meet Council guidelines.
- The ongoing remedial works required due to damage by a tree are too costly.
- Council approved its removal as part of a streetscape plan or works program.
- A different tree is required in the streetscape after powerlines are removed.
- A tree is indicated in a property development plan - to Council's required format and standard - and is approved by Council, provided the developer meets the cost of tree valuation, removal and replacement, or
- It is causing damage to property or public utilities, and the cost of ongoing remedial works becomes uneconomical, i.e. the cost of the perceived ongoing repairs outweighs the value of the tree and there is no reasonable alternative to solve the problem.
Council does not remove a 'significant tree' unless it is dead, diseased, dying or dangerous. 'Significant trees' are individual or avenue trees with special qualities, are generally large and mature, of good health, and provide high amenity values.
When Council does not remove a tree
Council will not remove a tree for any of the following reasons:
- Falling leaves, bark, gum nut or flower debris
- To provide vistas
- Tree is growing over a property, blocking light, shading lawn or a pool
- Tree is considered too big or too old
- Perceived danger that a tree may fall in a storm or has dropped a limb
- Would like an alternative species of tree
- Property alterations require a crossover to be relocated
- Droppings by a bird, bat, possum or other wildlife
- Insect issue, such as spiders, bees or ants
- Solar access for solar panels
- The tree shades the nature strip or resident’s garden, or
- Surface root growth that restricts mowing heights.
For allergies, medically-verified allergy testing results need to be provided to Council before Council will consider a request to remove a tree for this reason.
For blocked pipes and drains, see stormwater drains for information about responsibilities and the reporting process.
For property damage by tree root, see injury or property damage reporting process.
Removal of a street tree as part of a property development plan
On occasion, a property development proposal may include removal of a street tree. If this is the case, you must indicate this in the property development plan when applying for a planning permit.
If you neglect to advise Council of a street tree you are proposing to remove, by including it in the development plan, you will need to submit a revised planning permit application.
When designing a development plan, you should always consider alternatives that do not require removal of existing street trees.
If Council approves removal of a tree as part of a property development plan, the developer must pay for the cost of tree valuation which includes an amenity value, tree removal and replacement as part of the conditions of permit.
Council calculates the amenity value of a street tree using the City of Melbourne amenity value formula.
Council is vigilant about protecting trees in areas where development occurs. Council always enforces protection orders and ensures compliance with conditions of a planning permit.
The tree removal process
Where Council proposes to remove a tree, the affected resident is notified giving the reasons for the tree removal.
If a tree needs to be removed for emergency works, such as a dangerous tree following a storm, residents may not be notified in advance by Council.
When Council removes a tree, the tree stump is not immediately removed:
- Council schedules removal of the tree stump, usually up to a month after the tree trunk and branches are removed.
- The location of the tree is also added to the Council list for a new tree to be planted.
How to request tree removal
To report an urgent issue, such as a fallen or hanging branch which is dangerous, contact Council by phone on 9240 1111 (24 hours).
You can request removal of a tree through the Council website or contact Council if the reason is one of the circumstances Council will consider removing a tree. Upload a photo of the tree to help us respond to your request.
After you have reported the issue, a Council arborist may assess the tree or branch. Council notifies you of the outcome if requested.
Unauthorised removal of a tree
Unauthorised tree removal or suspected poisoning or vandalism of trees is a serious issue and vigilantly investigated by Council.
Offenders are fined under the Council local laws. The fine includes removal of the tree, if required, tree replacement and maintenance for the initial establishment period.
Where trees of significance have been vandalised or damaged, the cost of the tree valuation will be pursued to replace the cost of the lost asset.
Removal of a protected tree on private property
If a tree on your property is protected through the provisions of a planning permit or an overlay in the Moreland Planning Scheme, you need to contact Council Planning Department if you want to remove the tree, and Council permission will be required before undertaking any works. 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
- the tree is threatening a building or structure
- the tree is on a boundary and you or your neighbours want to erect a dividing fence, or
- branches are threatening roof tiles.
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.