Trees, pipes and properties

It is a property owner's responsibility to maintain the pipes from their property through to the Sydney water main.

Watch our video for more information.

Remove or prune a tree

Council has the power to protect or preserve trees in the Burwood Local Government Area through the State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021.

You need to have a development consent or a tree permit from Council before removing or pruning a tree that:

  • has a height equal to or exceeding 4m, or
  • a branch spread equal to or exceeding 2m, or
  • a trunk diameter exceeding 150mm measured at a distance 1.4m above the ground.


The Burwood Development Control Plan(PDF, 13MB) (BDCP) allows for exemptions to the above requirement. It also contains information on heritage items, assessment items and right of appeal.

Please click here to read Section 6.1 of the BDCP(PDF, 178KB), detailing our policy on the Preservation of Trees or Vegetation.


Please be mindful that the unlawful removal of a tree may result in formal action being pursued in the courts. Council takes these matters very seriously and it is very important that any applicant understands the requirements of the provisions before attempting to trim, cut, lop or remove a tree. A person who does not comply with the requirements of the BDCP when it comes to the preservation of trees may receive a fine.

 Council Responsibility 

Council is responsible for trees on nature strips, parks and public places. Council is assessing trees according to yearly schedule and customer complaints to make sure they are healthy and safe.

Council prunes trees to:

  • remove any dead, dying or dangerous branches
  • pedestrian and traffic clearance
  • improve their health
  • ensure they don’t block traffic signs.

Council is not pruning trees to:

  • allow or improve a view
  • reduce fruit or leaf fall, sap drop, bird droppings or similar
  • increase street lighting onto private property
  • break any law that is there to protect trees.

Sewer and Storm Water Lines

If your claim is in relation to tree roots in sewer and stormwater lines please note that residents are responsible for maintaining and repairing their own pipe system from house up to the main even if the main is in the middle of the road. Sydney Water provides information on how to care for your pipes.

However if you wish to submit a claim for damage caused by tree roots you should provide Council with the evidence. Your evidence should include a report from a licensed plumber or other qualified service provider.

A report should include:

  • the name, address and contact information of the plumber undertaking the inspection
  • address of the property inspected
  • how the inspection was done and what was found
  • photos or videos, including footage of the sewer system. This should show the blockage and evidence of root ingress.

To avoid damage to sewer and storm water lines Council recommends upgrading from terracotta pipes to PVC. The seals on old terracotta pipes wear away with time and allow tree roots to get in the pipe. Newer PVC pipes fitted by a licensed plumber provide much greater protection. Tree roots cannot enter well-constructed, sealed and sound PVC pipes with adequate flexibility.

Structures and fences on your property

If you wish to submit a claim in relation to council’s tree roots damaging any structure or fence on your property you must provide evidence to show that Council’s tree has damaged your structure or fence. We recommend you engage a professional such as an arborist or structural engineer to carry out an inspection and produce a report. Alternatively excavate a small trench next to the structure crack or where you think that tree roots may affected your structure/fence and call Council’s officer on 9911 9911 to make an appointment for roots inspection. Please do not cut or remove tree roots.

If you are suppling Council with a report, it should include:

  • the name, address and contact information of the person undertaking the inspection
  • address of the property inspected
  • photos or videos, ensuring they include reference objects to show the scale of the damage
  • reference to the structure's integrity and standard of construction (including footings)
  • evidence to support your claim that our trees have damaged your structure or fence.

Ausgrid Responsibility

Ausgrid is responsible for keeping a safe distance between trees and the electricity network. If a tree is touching, or close to, Ausgrid’s power lines, please submit a complaint to be forwarded to Ausgrid or call 13 13 88.

What do I have to do to remove a tree?


Step 1.Complete an application form

Apply to Remove or Prune a Tree

Step 2.Certification

Attach any applicable certification by an appropriate qualified person (arborist, structural engineer, licensed plumber etc)

Step 3.Pay Fee

See Application Form for fees. Customer Service will provide you with a reference number, advising the required fee and how to pay online.