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Significant Trees and Protected Trees

Our townships have an average of 30% urban forest cover (trees and shrubs) on public land, but only 21% on private land. Research shows that 40% is considered optimal. So, while Council will focus on protecting our existing vegetation cover and improving connectivity by planting along streets and in parks, our private land (residential gardens and commercial precincts) also plays a critical role in nurturing our urban forests.

As part of the 2022 Local Law Review and following extensive community consultation additional measures have been introduced into the new General Local Law 2022 to strengthen tree protection which will compliment the work being undertaken for our very first Urban Forest Strategy and existing planning controls.

Tree Protection under Local Law came into effect on 1 January 2023. In applying the Local Law, Council intends to:

  • Protect our treed landscape by maintaining tree canopy on private land.
  • Require a minimum standard of tree pruning for the protection of trees and public safety.
  • Protect and enhance the amenity and environment of Bass Coast.
Do I need a permit to remove a tree?

An owner or occupier of private property will now need a Local Laws permit to:

  • Cut, trim, lop, prune or otherwise interfere with, or cause or allow to be cut, trimmed, lopped, pruned or otherwise interfered with, on any private property any significant tree or protected tree
  • Carry out, or cause or allow to be carried out, any works within the tree protection zone of a significant tree or protected tree, including but not limited to building, trenching, digging, compacting, excavating, filling, or storing materials and equipment.
What defines a significant tree or protected tree?
  • Significant tree means a tree that is recorded on Council’s Significant Tree Register - this register is currently under development.
  • Protected tree means a tree with a single trunk circumference or combined trunk circumference greater than 155 centimetres measured at one metre above ground level but excluding species which are noxious weeds. Refer to the attachment above for a diagram on how this is measured.
What is the cost of a Local Law Permit?

At this stage there will be no fees to apply for a Local Law Permit.

How do I apply for a Local Law Permit and what information do I need to provide?

To lodge a Local Law Permit Application to remove a Protected or Significant Tree please use this link.

To assess your proposal we request:

  • An Arborist Report from a suitably qualified Arborist assessing the tree/s proposed to be pruned or removed.
  • A hand drawn Site Plan showing the location of the tree (including species) in context to the title boundaries/house with relevant annotations and dimensions.
  • Photographs.
  • Consent of the land owner if you are not the landowner.
How do I apply for a Planning Permit and how long will it take?

To find out more about planning permit requirements for trees and vegetation please refer to this page otherwise you can refer to our planning permit page for all relevant forms, fees and checklists. Certain tree removal applications may be eligible for the Vicsmart fast track program and a decision made within 10 business days (subject to all required information being submitted).

How can I report suspected removal of trees without a permit?

Please report suspected removal of trees without a permit on our website by selecting ‘Contact Us’ and then ‘Trees and Vegetation’ – to assist in providing a swift solution please ensure you provide as much evidence as possible noting that not all trees require a permit.

Can I chat to a Council Arborist?

We recommend you speak with our Statutory Planning team as a first point of contact if you had any questions about whether a permit will be required and what the process will be. Any specific question on the health of trees on your land are best directed to your own independent arborist who will need to undertake a site visit and assessment of the tree.

If an application to remove or prune a protected or significant tree has been lodged with Council you can request a call back to speak to a planner who will liaise with our Arborist (in most cases calls are returned on the same day and no later than 48 hours).