Removing a tree from your property will typically require permission from the council. Although a tree removal company can help guide you on how to initiate the process, it is up to you to learn the rules and follow the proper protocols.

Is the Tree Exempt?

Not every tree removal requires council permission. Your council can provide you with the local Tree Preservation Order (TPO). This order will list all of the reasons why a tree may be exempt from approval requirements. TPO exemption requirements vary quite a bit between councils, but most include exemptions for trees growing too closely to a home's foundation or those that are under a certain size. Some species, particularly if they are non-native, may also be included in the TPO.

Does the Tree Pose a Hazard?

If a tree is not exempt, you must fill out a request for permission to remove it. Hazardous trees are given priority for permission, for obvious reasons. If the tree is dropping large branches that can damage your home or injure someone, you will likely receive permission. Leaning trees or those with split trunks, which are in danger of falling, are also usually approved for removal. Make note of any possible hazards so you can include them on your request.

Has the Tree Died?

Dead trees may not be mentioned specifically in a TPO, but they will usually receive instant approval from the council if you file for permission. This isn't just because the tree is an eyesore, but also because it can pose a hazard if it were to fall. The council may require an arborist's assessment to verify that the tree is dead, particularly if you seek permission in the dormant season when there are naturally no leaves on the tree.

Are Pests or Diseases a Concern?

Pest and disease issues can also secure council permission for tree removal. There will be more restrictions if you pursue this method. You may need to have the tree assessed by an arborist to both verify the problem and to receive a statement that the tree is unlikely to recover with treatment. In other words, it must be a fatal disease or infestation. There will likely be some exemptions for highly contagious pests and diseases, though, as the council will want the tree removed and the problem contained before it can move to healthy trees in the area.

Contact a tree removal service and your council to learn more about legal tree removal in your area.