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Tree Removal & Pruning Guidelines in the Gold Coast Council

Gold Coast City Council | Tree Removal Guidelines

Pruning leaves, lopping branches and removing trees are all necessary parts of caring for your private trees and the wider ecosystem on the Gold Coast. Trimming overgrown leaves and branches promotes healthy growth. Lopping overweight branches reduces the risk of your tree becoming a hazard during high winds or storms. Removing dead, dying or damaged trees creates space for new saplings to be planted. 

While each of these steps are part of responsible tree management, it is important to understand the local laws surrounding the protection of private trees before you commence any such steps. Tree protection laws vary between council regions, making it crucial that you are up to date with the regulations applicable to your municipality. Violation of these laws can result in steep financial penalties. 

This guide will take you through everything you need to know before you start private tree work in the Gold Coast City Council. We break down the complicated application process for you. We explain under which circumstances you might need a permit, what exemptions might apply to you and how you go about applying for a private tree works permit. 

Jim's Trees team doing pruning

Do you need a permit?

If you want to remove or significantly prune a private tree in the Gold Coast City Council, there is a good chance you will require the permission of the council to do so. This permission is granted in the form of a tree works permit. 

Before you rush off to apply for this permit, the council provides a useful checklist to help determine whether you need permission to proceed: Do I need to lodge an application for the removal of vegetation on my property?

This checklist will categorise the type of work you wish to do as either an ‘accepted development’ or an ‘assessable development’. 

  1. Accepted development: No application is required. The works you wish to carry out do not require a permit from the council if they meet the criteria for an accepted development. 
  2. Assessable development: A permit is required from the council to carry out this type of work. No damage to vegetation can be conducted without an application for operational works – vegetation clearing is required.

Applying for a permit

If the checklist above has categorised your work as ‘accepted development’, then you do not need to apply for a permit and can skip this next step. If your work has been identified as ‘assessable development’, then you will need to read on to submit one of the following applications to the council. 

There are four distinct types of permits to apply for when it comes to clearing private vegetation. Each of these have different requirements in terms of application fees and information, so it is important that you select the correct permit. 

  1. Standard tree works application (not associated with a building development)
  2. Tree works associated with a building approval
  3. Tree works associated with a development approval
  4. Tree works associated with a vehicular crossing

Standard tree works application (not associated with a building development)

This permit is for residents of private properties who wish to remove a tree where there are no developments (proposed or current) that are being undertaken on the site. The following information must be included with your application:

Tree works associated with a building approval

Residents of private properties who wish to remove a tree where there is currently a proposal for a building approval or one currently being undertaken should submit this application with the following documents: 

Tree works associated with a development approval

Similar to the previous permit, this is for residents wanting to remove a tree where there is currently a development underway or a proposed development on the site. The following documents are needed for this application: 

Tree works associated with a vehicular crossing

With this type of work, you are advised to consider alternative options to avoid damaging existing trees wherever possible. Where the removal of a tree is essential, you must submit a combined application for operational works (Vehicular crossing and vegetation clearing).

Application resources

  • Forms
    The documents you need to complete any of the aforementioned applications can be found here. These forms can be submitted online or handed in to a customer service centre in person. 
  • Assistance
    You can find resources to help with any of these applications here
  • Fees
    The fees associated with each of the permit types can be found at the register of fees and charges page under ‘OPW (Tree works)’ under the Operational works – Environmental section.
    Note: The applicable fee for the ‘Tree Works associated with a vehicular crossing’ combined application is the OPW Vehicular crossing (VXO) application fee plus 50 per cent of the OPW-VXO-Tree works. Included Areas

These local tree protection laws only apply to properties within the jurisdiction of the Gold Coast City Council, this includes the following suburbs and localities: 

Advancetown, Alberton, Arundel, Ashmore, Austinville, Benowa, Biggera Waters, Bilinga, Bonogin, Broadbeach, Broadbeach Waters, Bundall, Burleigh Heads, Burleigh Waters, Carrara, Cedar Creek (part), Clagiraba, Clear Island Waters, Coolangatta, Coombabah, Coomera, Currumbin, Currumbin Valley, Currumbin Waters, Elanora, Gaven, Gilberton, Gilston, Guanaba, Helensvale, Highland Park, Hollywell, Hope Island, Jacobs Well, Kingsholme, Labrador, Lower Beechmont, Luscombe, Main Beach, Maudsland, Mermaid Beach, Mermaid Waters, Merrimac, Miami, Molendinar, Mount Nathan, Mudgeeraba, Natural Bridge, Nerang, Neranwood, Norwell, Numinbah Valley, Ormeau, Ormeau Hills, Oxenford, Pacific Pines, Palm Beach, Paradise Point, Parkwood, Pimpama, Reedy Creek, Robina, Runaway Bay, South Stradbroke, Southport, Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Springbrook, Stapylton, Steiglitz, Surfers Paradise, Tallai, Tallebudgera, Tallebudgera Valley, Tugun, Upper Coomera, Varsity Lakes, Willow Vale, Wongawallan, Woongoolba, Worongary and Yatala.

Cut to the chase

This guide has run you through everything you need to know before you commence work on private trees in the Gold Coast City Council. We’ve provided links to all the necessary resources to determine whether you need a permit, which permit to apply for and the necessary resources to have that permit approved.

Dealing with council applications can still be a daunting task. If you would like to speak with a trained specialist about how to go about applying for a permit, give our friendly team a call on 131 546 today. Our trained arborists are highly experienced at dealing with local councils and would be happy to walk you through the process. 

Our crews are experienced, highly trained and well equipped to tackle any job, big or small. Every job we do is covered by our industry-leading $10 million insurance policy.

If you’re in the Gold Coast area and need help with your trees, we offer obligation-free quotes. Give us a call or fill out our online quote request form anytime and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.