Trees are defined as woody plants that grow over a certain height, usually over three metres and sometimes also over a certain diameter at chest height or canopy spread.
In recognition of the fact that most councils value the contribution of trees to our living environment, Dorset Council require a person to obtain permission before removing individual trees or lopping branches either on private land or council land, under provisions in their planning schemes.
These provisions may vary between zones or overlay areas. A Forest Practices Plan is usually required to clear large numbers of trees.
Contact the council before cutting, damaging or removing any trees on your land. You generally do not require a Planning Permit to remove individual trees, especially if they are:
Some land titles have a tree protection order attached to them. This means you require written approval from council before trees can be removed. Also some councils require a Planning Permit if you are in a special zone like an environmental protection or landscape protection zone.
Contact the Planning Department on (03) 6352 6500 to check whether the tree is in a protection zone and what provisions apply. Please give a good description of the tree's location and what the problem is.
If you are removing a tree or trees as part of a development application you need to indicate the locations of the tree or trees on your plans.
Council officers will decide whether the trees should be removed or not in their overall assessment of the development.
Clearing large numbers of trees
In general terms:
These are assessed and issued by the Forest Practices Board and are completely separate from any council approval, however these plans may be submitted to Council if a planning permit is required.
Further information about the Forest Practices Board and Forest Practices Plans can be found on the Forest Practices Board website.
If you are clearing 'vulnerable' land you must always first obtain a Forest Practices Plan, regardless of the size of the area. Vulnerable land is defined in the Forest Practices Regulations 1997 as land:
After you submit the application form to remove a tree it will be passed on to the council's Planning Department and they will assess whether you need a permit.
Someone from the Works Department, or an arborist, will inspect the tree and make a recommendation. You will then be informed of the decision and may be issued with a permit, or asked to provide further information and submit a development application.
You may be charged for this.
Contact the Planning Department on (03) 6352 6527 to check on possible costs.
Councils do not generally get involved in negotiations between neighbours regarding trees. It is up to you to talk to your neighbour and work out a mutually acceptable solution.
If your neighbour decides that they do want to remove a tree they may need to apply to council for permission by contacting the Planning Department on (03) 6352 6500.
You will need to submit a written request to the Council, stating where the tree is and what the issue is. Someone from the council will inspect the tree and if a decision is made that the tree is unsafe or diseased, council will organise to remove it.
Some councils have a Significant Tree Register, a Tree Preservation Order or trees and gardens that are listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. These may apply to particular trees, or all the trees in a certain area or zone.
These trees cannot be damaged or removed without a permit.
Contact the council on (03) 6352 6500 to find out what the situation is in your area.
It is possible to object and also to appeal council's decision, if:a Planning Permit is required to remove a tree and the application is advertised, or the tree or trees are part of a larger development proposal which is advertised.
If you object, you must do so to the council, within 14 days of the development proposal being advertised.
If you wish to appeal councils decision you must:
have already lodged an objection to the council with regard to the proposal submit your appeal to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) within 14 days of receiving notice of council's decision.
The Tribunal charges a fee of $55 for lodging an appeal and a special form must be filled out. The Tribunal can be contacted on Ph: 6233 6464.
A clear explanation of the process involved in appealing against planning decisions can be found in Chapter 5 of the Environmental Law Handbook, 2nd Edition, published by the Environmental Defenders Office.
It is available from their office at 131 Macquarie St, Hobart, Ph: 6223 2770 and also from all major bookstores and Service Tasmania outlets. A brochure outlining the appeals process may be obtained from your local council or RMPAT.
Tree roots can be aggressive and can often exert pressure on buildings, footpaths, fences and pipes. Existing cracks in pipes allow root invasion, as tree roots will seek out sources of moisture and nutrients.
Under the Local Government Act 1993, councils 'by notice in writing served on the owner or occupier of land, may require the owner or occupier to cut the roots of a tree or bush or remove a tree or bush the roots of which are interfering with any building or structure on or under other land' (Part 12, Section 184).
Pouring herbicides down blocked drains will not clear the roots but will almost certainly result in pollution problems and will kill the tree. Find out where the drains and pipes are on your property before planting large trees. Many councils have information about trees to avoid near drains.
Plans of public and private drains can be viewed in the Plumbing Section of your council.