1. How can I remove a tree from my private property?

If you have a residential house block, all trees are protected if they have a trunk circumference (girth) equal to, or in excess of 40 centimetres when measured at 1.3 metres above the average ground level at the trunk’s base.

If however you are in a Rural, Park Living or Emerging Communities Domain and your property is greater than 8000 metres² then all vegetation in excess of 40 centimetres in girth and/or 4 metres in height are protected and require Council approval for removal.

Removing a tree without formal approval

In areas zoned Rural, Park Living or Emerging Communities, and land over 8000 metres², no approval is required if a tree is:

  • under 40 centimetres in girth (ie. circumference / around the trunk) at 1.3 metres above the average ground level at the trunk’s base and less than 4 meters in height
  • less than 10 metres from the foundations of an existing building or structure (which includes a property dividing fence)
  • less than 10 metres from the foundations of a proposed structure for which all necessary Council approvals have been obtained

In other areas, no approval is required if a tree is:

  • under 40 cm in girth (i.e. circumference / around the trunk) at 1.3 metres above the average ground level at the trunk’s base
  • less than three metres from the foundations of an existing building or structure (which includes a fence)
  • less than three metres from the foundations of a proposed structure for which all necessary council approvals have been obtained
  • Note 1: Structure is defined as any fixed structure that requires a building approval, or any retaining wall greater than 1.2 metres in height, or property boundary fences, stockyards, pools, and pool safety fences.

2. I want to put up a boundary fence but a tree is in the way

If the tree is on your own property and within three metres of the proposed property dividing boundary fence, you may remove the tree provided that you erect the fence within 21 working days of the tree being removed.

However, if the tree is on your neighbour’s property and within three metres of the proposed property dividing boundary fence you must liaise with the tree’s owner(s) to get their approval to remove the tree, provided that you erect the fence within 21 working days of the tree being removed.

If the neighbouring tree(s) is/are owned by Council, application will need to be made to Council seeking approval to injure, affect or destroy public vegetation.

3. I have building approval to build a new house; do I need approval to remove the trees?

No. Vegetation clearing within an approved building footprint for the construction of an approved detached dwelling is self-assessable. No application is necessary.

4. I live in a complex (Building Unit Plan / Group Title Plan) and there is a tree on common property that I want removed. Can I remove this tree?

No. All vegetation on common property in a complex will require an application to Council for removal, the application should be submitted by the Body Corporate or its representative.

5. The tree is dead so can I remove it without Council approval?

No. All vegetation greater than 40 centimetres in girth (i.e. circumference / around the trunk) at 1.3 metres above the average ground level at the trunk’s base requires Council approval to be removed, regardless of whether it is dead or alive.

6. The leaves from the neighbour’s tree drop in my pool – surely that means they have to remove the tree?

No. In many cases pools are built well after trees have become established. If the trees are not causing any damage and are just dropping leaves then Council would not look favourably at an application for removal.

7. Well, what do I do now?

It is recommended that you contact one of the following agencies to investigate or assist you in resolving the problem:

Legal Aid office (Qld) -1300 65 1188
Citizens Advice Bureau – (07) 5532 9611
Dispute Resolution Centre – 1800 017 288
In addition, you can trim whatever is overhanging your property (only to the boundary line).

In neighbourhood disputes, first try to reach an amicable agreement directly or through an objective mediator such as the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Legal action tends to damage neighbour relations. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party.

8. Can I throw the branches back into their property?

Overhanging branches – you can lop off overhanging branches of a neighbour’s tree if the branches are causing a nuisance. You should not trespass on the neighbour’s land to do this. However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or willing to dispose of them.

9. Do I need to fill out an application form?

For general maintenance/ pruning works on Public Lands you can make application via telephoning Council. If you are requesting a tree on Public Land to be removed, you need to complete the following form:

Application for Tree Works/Removal (Public Land) (PDF 39kb)

10. How much does the application to remove a tree cost?

Public tree clearing or works is free, unless associated with a Development Application.
There are fees associated with:

  • Private tree clearing or works
  • If associated with a Development Application (Reconfiguring a Lot, Operational Works, or Material Change of Use)
  • If associated with a Building Application and an approved Family Accommodation
  • For all fees please refer to Councils current Register of Fees and Charges.

Register of Fees and Charges (PDF 679kb)

11. My tree branches are going into the power lines; what can be done?

Contact Energex and they will remove any intruding tree parts from the power lines.

12. Will Council remove the tree(s) on my property?

No, if Council approves the tree(s) to be removed, you will have to engage your own tree specialist/contractor to do the work.

13. Can you recommend someone to remove the tree(s)?

Council cannot recommend contractors. Refer to fact sheet vegetation management on private land.

Vegetation Management Fact sheet
Ensure that the contractor has insurance and, in the case of tree surgeons, has tertiary qualifications and/or is a member of an arboricultural society.

14. Someone has cut down trees on their property – do they have approval?

Ring Council on (07) 5582 8688 to check if they have obtained approval or if an approval was necessary.

If you are sure the trees were not within three metres/10 metres of a structure and/or are greater than 40 centimetres in girth, and Council approval has not been obtained, then contact Council’s Local Law section on (07) 5581 6284 to report a breach. A Council officer will go out to investigate the possible illegal removal.

15. My neighbour’s tree overhangs my property. Is there anything I can do?

Yes. You may prune what is on your side of the fence as long as it is not detrimental to the tree’s health (only to the boundary line). However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or unwilling to dispose of them.

16. I live on a rural block and want to clear vegetation. Do I need to apply to Council?

Yes. An application must be submitted to Council for any clearing of vegetation on rural lots. If the vegetation is remnant it has additional protection under State Legislation. Any clearing of remnant vegetation regardless of the status (endangered, of concern or not of concern) will require approval from the Department of Natural Resources & Mines (DNR&M).

If you are not sure what remnant vegetation is and you have an email address and your lot and RP details, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website to request an emailed copy of your property with the vegetation category and status clearly illustrated.

www.derm.qld.gov.au – Department of Environment, Resource and Management website
Ring DNR&M toll free on 1800 999 367

17. What is remnant vegetation?

Remnant vegetation is all intact and predominantly intact vegetation communities, excluding young regrowth. Clarification can be provided via the above web page link.

18. There is a tree on the nature strip or in the park next door to my property and it is dangerous or dead. Can I remove it?

No. You must ring Council’s Parks Services to assess the tree, as only Council or its contractors are allowed to remove or prune trees on public property.

South of the Nerang River – phone (07) 5581 7814
North of the Nerang River – phone (07) 5581 7967

19. I live in a townhouse and we have a Body Corporate but there is tree on my private property (courtyard). Can I remove it?

If the tree is within three metres (measured from the centre of the trunk to the edge of a Council approved structure) and it is on your private property, then the removal is self-assessable under the Planning Scheme. No application is necessary.

However, if the tree is not within three metres of an approved structure and over four metres in height or 40 centimetres in girth, the tree is protected under the Gold Coast Planning Scheme and an application for its removal must be submitted to Council. There is no application fee.