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Trees and Shrubs

The aim of this fact sheet is to:-

  • Help avoid potential problems when selecting and planting trees; 
  • Inform what might be done when a problem does occur.

Planning Controls

A Planning Permit Application is required to prune, lop or remove a tree of heritage value or trees and vegetation in areas of high landscape quality or biodiversity value under the Derwent Valley Interim Planning Scheme 2015.

6.3.1  A permit under this planning scheme is not required for a use or development described in subclause 6.3.2 unless there is:

(a)  a code in this planning scheme which lists a heritage place or precinct and requires a permit for the use or development that is to be undertaken;

(b)   a code in this planning scheme which expressly regulates impacts on scenic or landscape values and requires a permit for the use or development that is to be undertaken;

(c)    a code in this planning scheme which expressly regulates impacts on biodiversity values and requires a permit for the use or developmentthat is to be undertaken;

(d)  disturbance of more than 1m ² of land that has been affected by a potentially contaminating activity;

(e)  excavation or fill of more than 0.5m depth in a salinity hazard area or landslip hazard area shown in the planning scheme;

(f)  the removal of any threatened vegetation; or

(g)  land located within 30m of a wetland or watercourse.

6.3.2  The planting, clearing or modification of vegetation for any of the following purposes:-

(a)  the landscaping and the management of vegetation:

       (i) on pasture or cropping land, other than for plantation forestry on prime agricultural land; or

      (ii) within a garden, national park, public park or state-reserved land, provided the vegetation is not protected by permit condition, an agreement made under Part 5 of the Act, covenant or other legislation;

(b)   clearance or conversion of a vegetation community in accordance with a forest practices plan certified under the Forest Practices Act 1985;

(c)   fire hazard management in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan approved as part of subdivision or development;

(d)   fire hazard reduction required in accordance with the Fire Service Act 1979 or an abatement notice issued under the Local Government Act 1993;

(e)   fire hazard management in accordance with a bushfire hazard management planendorsed by the Tasmanian Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania or the Parks and Wildlife Service;

(f)     to provide clearance of up to 1m for the maintenance, repair and protection of lawfully constructed buildings or infrastructure including roads, tracks, footpaths, cycle paths, drains, sewers, power lines, pipelines and telecommunications facilities;

(g)   for soil conservation or rehabilitation works including Landcare activities and the like and, provided that ground cover is maintained and erosion is managed, the removal or destruction of weeds declared under the Weed Management Act 1999;

(h)   the implementation of a vegetation management agreement or a natural resource, catchment, coastal, reserve or property management plan provided the agreement or plan has been endorsed or approved by the relevant agency;

(i)  safety reasons where the work is required for the removal of dead wood, or treatment of disease, or required to remove an unacceptable risk to public or private safety, or where the vegetation is causing or threatening to cause damage to a substantial structure or building;

(j)  within 1m of a title boundary for the purpose of erecting or maintaining a boundary fence.

If you are thinking about removing or pruning a tree please contact Council on (03) 6261 8530 to find out whether a Planning Permit Application is required.

Council Policy

Council does not prohibit or control the planting of any species of tree within the municipality (unless on a nature strip or within a road reservation). Plant selection is the property owner’s responsibility as are problems and costs that result from poor plant selection.

Common Law

The following statement acknowledges a person’s "rights" under Common Law.  "Any branch of any plant which overhangs onto a neighbour’s property can be cut off (to the property line) by the neighbour, if they are a nuisance, provided that the sawn off branches are returned to the owner of the plant. If they are retained by the neighbour then he has converted them into his own use and in law has stolen them"

For any legal clarification of this matter, consult your solicitor.

Please remember that before carrying out your common rights, it is probably best to first talk to the owner of the tree or plant. Doing this provides an opportunity for you to raise concerns and issues that, if undiscussed, might otherwise inhibit "good neighbourliness". Friendly and cooperative neighbours are valuable assets in any community.

Know your trees and shrubs

Decide on the type of tree you want for an area; be aware of its "mature" height, width and the nature of its root system. Do not be tempted into buying trees because they look good in small pots unless you know their growth habit and have a suitable site for them to reach maturity.

Be aware that the tree will not only grow in height but will increase in girth. Allow enough distance from structures, including boundary fences, to allow the tree to grow without causing damage. 

Consider the impact your garden has on neighbouring properties. Be aware of possible inconveniences your landscaping can cause your neighbours. Common sense can usually avoid unpleasant disputes that may otherwise be lengthy and costly.

For general guidance, trees should be planted a minimum of half their mature height from buildings, structures or boundary fences. This will minimise the potential for their roots to cause damage or for their canopy to overhang adjoining properties.

Avoiding Potential Problems

Fruits, leaves or limbs dropping onto neighbouring properties cause anxiety for some people and can lead to neighbour disputes. Careful planning when landscaping and regular maintenance afterwards can avoid future problems. 

Make sure you know where services such as sewer, storm water, power, water and telecommunications are before you dig. These services are expensive to repair and in some cases, such as power, damage can result in injury or a fatality. 

Observe the statutory power authorities’ (Tasnetworks and Taswater) recommended above and below ground distances from services. 

Root Damage

Tree roots are often damaged when buildings are erected. The cutting of major roots can cause a large tree to become unstable. Hard surface areas around the trunk can create a build up of toxins in the soil and affect the tree’s health.

Large trees can remove huge amounts of moisture from the soil profile contributing to soil

shrinkage and subsidence. This can lead to structural damage to nearby buildings. Preventative steps, such as the installation of root barrier materials, can guard against structural damage.

Tree roots, as a general rule, extend to the same radius as that of the tree’s canopy.

When A Problem Occurs

Talk it over with your neighbour, explain your point of view and what you think is the cause of the problem. Be prepared to suggest two or three possible solutions. 

If a solution cannot be found try a mediation service or use the legal system and solve the problem through the Courts.

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Derwent Valley Council
The Derwent Valley Municipal area is characterised by it's ever growing rural townships, green hills and river valley environment. Major features of the Derwent Valley municipality include it's land and fresh water resources.
Contact Council
Circle Street
PO Box 595
New Norfolk Tas 7140
Fax: 03 6261 8546
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Monday - Friday
8:15am to 5:00pm
(Closed on Public Holidays)
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