Trees & vegetation

We're committed to protecting trees and vegetation in our community.

Part of the Development Control Plan, our Tree and Vegetation Management Guidelines(PDF, 206KB) contain restrictions around planting and removal of trees and vegetation in private and public spaces. Failure to comply with these restrictions may result in penalties.


Public spaces

Urban roads

Maintenance on Cessnock City Council street trees is undertaken by our Tree Services Team and tree contractors. Activities include:

  • uplifting
  • branch removal
  • branch reduction
  • removal of damaged, diseased or unsafe trees and vegetation
  • root pruning
  • tree planting
  • tree mulching

Can I plant a street tree on a Council footpath?

You must gain approval from Council prior to the planting of any street trees and or vegetation on a Council footpath in an urban area. Conditions apply and associated costs are the responsibility of the applicant.

To seek approval, please submit an Application for Proposed Works on Council Owned Land form(DOCX, 1MB) prior to commencement of works.

Note: Council has the right to remove unapproved trees and vegetation from footpaths and verges.

Can I plant trees or vegetation in a park, sporting ground or reserve?

Maintenance of trees and vegetation in our parks, sporting fields and reserves is undertaken by Council’s Tree Services.

Applications(DOCX, 1MB) may be considered from residents and user groups to plant additional trees at suitable locations within sporting fields, parks and reserves. Approval must be given prior works being undertaken. Conditions apply and associated costs are the responsibility of the applicant.

Note: Council has the right to remove unapproved trees and vegetation. 

Tree removal for the purposes of driveway construction

Council's Tree Services team or our tree contractors are able to assist with the removal and/or pruning of trees and vegetation for the purposes of driveway construction.

Fees and charges are applicable on a case by case scenario. Payment is the responsibility of the property owner and/or developer.


Rural zones

We have a large network of rural roads, many of which contain native trees and vegetation. You must seek Council approval(DOCX, 1MB) should you wish to plant additional trees or vegetation in a rural zone. 

If you notice an issue requiring attention, please submit a service request via our eServices portal or contact our customer service team.


Private Properties

Urban zones 

It's the responsibility of the property owner to seek approval for tree and vegetation works on a private property in urban zones.

When is approval required?

Approval for removal or pruning of trees and vegetation in urban zones is required under our Guidelines where the tree or vegetation:

  • is located in urban zone within the Development Control Plan(PDF, 141MB)
  • has a height of more than 3 metres
  • has a crown spread more than 3 metres
  • has a trunk which is located further than 3 metres from a lawful existing structure (DA Approved Structure)
  • isn't located in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing.
  • isn't dead or dying or pose a threat to human life or property (conditions apply)
  • is in a declared Ecological Endangered Community
  • is not approved under the conditions of a development application

Special approval conditions apply to Native Vegetation under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

How do I obtain or seek approval?

Approval for removal and/or pruning of trees and vegetation on private property may be obtained by contacting Council's customer service team. See the steps listed below:

  1. Request a Tree Preservation Assessment to be undertaken
  2. We'll assess your enquiry and determine which approvals or actions are required
  3. Written notification will be provided

Please note: Fees & Charges(PDF, 2MB) may apply 

When is approval not required?

Approval for the removal or pruning of trees and vegetation isn't required in cases where the tree or vegetation:

  • is within a designated NSW 10/50 Rural Fire Zone
  • is subject to a current approved development consent
  • requires pruning for ornamental purposes in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees
  • is dead, dying or posing a risk to human life and or property that is not a habitat for native animals. (Conditions apply and a written justification via a Level 5 Arborist report must be provided)
  • is within 3 metres of a development application approved existing structure
  • is less than 3 metres in height and less than 3 metres in spread

Unauthorised removal or harm of vegetation may be considered a breach of our Tree and Vegetation Management Guidelines(PDF, 206KB) and or conditions under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Always seek advice from Council prior to undertaking works.

Why would approval be declined?

Certain requests may be declined if deemed not within the acceptable reasons for removal and/or pruning. The following situations may be considered unacceptable:

  • falling leaves, flowers, fruits or twigs which are considered a natural process of  healthy trees and vegetation
  • removal of tree and or pruning for the purpose of view creation
  • removal of healthy trees and vegetation
  • removal of trees for the gain of solar access
  • removal of trees and vegetation for purposes of land sales

What can I do if I'm not happy with the decision made by Council's tree officer?

Our tree officers are trained in tree assessment and determinations are made on a case by case scenario. Our tree inspections are conducted in line with the International Tree Hazard Evaluation Guidelines provided by the National Arborist Association of Australia. 

Should you not accept the determination made by our officer a Level 5 Qualified Arborist report may be submitted for consideration and re-evaluation. The report must clearly demonstrate reasons for removal and/or pruning. It must also contain the arborist's qualification and company details.

Upon review of the submitted documentation and evidence approval may be granted. All associated costs in obtaining the Level 5 Arborist report are the responsibility of the property owner.

Trees and vegetation from neighbouring properties

Council has no legal ability to control tree planting and or maintenance of trees and vegetation on private property. We may provide advice if the location of the tree is likely to pose a threat to the public.

Discuss the matter with your neighbour or the property owner to ensure they are aware of your concerns. See if a suitable outcome can be reached. This could include negotiating costs or sharing the costs associated with the removal. For more information view Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006..

If you're able to come to an agreement ask your neighbour for permission to contact Council to carry out works. 

In an urban zone a Tree Preservation Permit is required from Council prior to works commencing if the tree or vegetation is:

  • greater than 3 metres in height
  • greater than 3 metres in spread
  • more than 3 metres from an approved structure on the owners property

Rural zones

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 introduced changes to the approval requirements of trees and native vegetation in private rural zones. For removal of native vegetation and trees on private property in rural zones please contact Local Land Services Hunter 1300 795 299.

However if you live in an RU5 zone (village) you can contact Council.

For further information view the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017.


Management of environmentally sensitive trees and vegetation

The Cessnock Local Government Area has a diverse ecological community and is home to threatened species. To protect these species some areas have been declared Endangered Ecological Communities including:

  • Kurri Kurri Sand Swamp Woodland
  • Lower Hunter Spotted Gum Iron Bark Forest
  • Hunter Lowland Redgum Forest
  • Quorrobolong Scribbly Gum Woodland

Removal, pruning and clearing of vegetation in such areas has strict guidelines and is governed under both state and federal legislation. The approvals required depend on whether your land is in an urban zone or rural zone:

  • In a urban zone development approval is required. This will include the need for a detailed Environmental Impact documentation to determine approval. Find out more about the development application process here.
  • In a rural zone you must contact Local Land Services Hunter 1300 795 299.