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What is the Penalty for Cutting a Tree Without a Permit

Cutting a tree without the proper permit is an offence in Perth, Australia and carries serious consequences. The penalty for unlawfully cutting down a tree can be up to $50,000, depending on where it is located and whether local council regulations protect it.

It may also include imprisonment of up to two years or more and further court-imposed penalty notices. Even if the penalty imposed is only the minimum penalty of an on-the-spot fine of $250, it can still result in substantial financial costs and endangerment to the environment.

It should also be noted that there are strict rules regarding council tree removal, with applications for permits generally taking between four and six weeks to process. It means you should plan if you have reasons to remove a tree from your property.

If removal is unavoidable, it’s essential to have the proper resources and documents in place when engaging with local councils. This includes understanding the necessary permits required and all regulations that must be followed during the tree removal process.

In addition to these steps, there are ways to reduce the environmental impact of tree removal by planting a new tree or maintaining existing trees on your property. A professional arborist can provide insight into what species will best suit your location while advising on nurturing and caring for them over time.

Council Fines For Cutting Down Trees Without Permit

Before removing trees from your property, you must contact the local council for approval. Failure to comply can come with considerable financial consequences, so make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t allowed about tree removal under relevant Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) or Local Environment Plans (LEPs).

Here is the list of council fines for cutting down trees without a permit.

New South Wales

Local councils in New South Wales strive to protect the environment through LEPs and TPOs, with strict fines for those who violate them. Offenders risk up to an astonishing $110,000 fine from a court โ€” or even steeper penalties of over one million dollars if brought before the Land and Environmental Court of NSW.


Governed by local laws, Queenslanders should be aware that fines for tree offences can differ from region to region. Cutting trees without a permit is illegal and thus may carry associated consequences โ€” take caution when pruning or removing your foliage.

South Australia

South Australians must apply for a permit before removing any regulated or significant tree. Failing to abide by the law may result in substantial penalties of up to $120,000 under The Planning and Design Code’s provisions within the South Australia Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Western Australia

Western Australia’s local councils are dedicated to preserving their landscape’s natural beauty. That is why strict tree protection laws have been put in place, prohibiting any removal or cutting down of trees without a valid permit for species within designated categories.

  • Trees have exceptional visual and aesthetic value.
  • Trees of excellent botanic and scientific value.
  • Trees of high ecological significance.
  • Trees of significant cultural, social, or memorial importance.

Cutting down these trees carries serious consequences โ€“ a general penalty of $200,000 and an additional fee that accumulates daily at $25,000. In addition, the grave offence has its infringement notice set at the punishment amounting to $500.


Tasmanian local councils are taking it upon themselves to enforce the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. Protecting Tasmania’s natural resources is of utmost importance โ€” cutting down protected trees without a permit can result in hefty fines of up to $10,000 for those caught disregarding this law.


In the flourishing state of Victoria, it is essential to remember that cutting trees without a permit can result in hefty fines. For example, Boroondara imposes penalties of up to $2,000 for each violation! Therefore, obtain your tree-cutting permits before any activity to protect our beautiful forests and greenery.


Canberra has enacted strict regulations to protect its trees and prevent deforestation’s devastating effects. Under the Tree Protection Act of 2005, cutting down certain species is strictly prohibited and enforced. These includes:

  • Trees measuring 12 meters in height.
  • Trees have a 1.5-meter-long trunk circumference.
  • Trees have a canopy diameter of more than 12 meters.

The Northern Territory

Home to some of Australia’s oldest and most beloved tree species, the Northern Territory provides little in terms of protective regulations for trees on private property. However, there are certain Heritage Conservation Act rules that owners must respect when protecting their unique heritage trees.

Can You Cut Down a Tree on Your Property?

Tree removal may seem easy, but local legislation could complicate it. There are regulations to consider when considering this action on your property.

Knowing which trees or vegetation require special permission from the council can be challenging when maintaining your property. Although local regulations vary widely, a helpful rule of thumb is that you may legally prune or cut down any tree on your land without prior consent when:

  • Poses a concern due to deterioration, broken trunks, or bentness.
  • Is dead or unwell as a result of natural causes.
  • Due to the storm, it has been tilting and may fall at any time.
  • It is 3 meters from your residence or the fire zone.
  • This plant is classified as a dangerous weed.
  • According to your local rules, this falls within the category of small trees.
  • You wish to erect a fence along your private property line.

What To Do Before Cutting Down a Tree?

Before planning to cut down trees from your property, you must know the pertinent regulations. Dating these laws may result in mild or severe penalties depending on where you live, so it pays to be well-informed. If and when doing this work is allowed by law, here are some steps to help ensure an effective yet safe process:

Let an Arborist Assess The Tree

Getting a professional tree specialist involved is essential before chopping down trees. With this level of expertise, homeowners may make correct assumptions about the state of their trees and be allowed permission by local authorities. When making your case, consider factors such as:

  • Dead tree.
  • Sick tree.
  • Bug-infested tree.
  • Trees grow near power lines or have roots encroaching on home foundations and walkways.
  • A crooked or dangerously leaning tree.
  • Trees that shed more leaves or debris during the hot, dry months might pose a fire hazard.

Figure Out If The Tree is Within Your Property

Knowing the law about trees is essential when dealing with adjoining properties. In Australia, cutting down a tree that is not on your property could land you in hot water โ€” so make sure you understand all relevant regulations and guidelines. If there are any concerns or neighbour disputes regarding trees, do reach out for help from local councils who can provide guidance and resolution.

Apply For a Permit

Removing a tree from your property can require special permission. The application process may vary depending on the city, but in Sydney, it includes an $85 license fee and a development consent fee of $100 plus an additional notification cost of $535. To submit successful paperwork, you’ll need to provide a valid justification for removal as well as supporting documentation which consists of the following:

  • A report on tree risk assessment.
  • A report suggesting likely building or other structural damage.
  • A copy of the construction permit is required.
  • The tree’s medical certificate report details the tree’s medical state.

Have a Professional Arborist Remove Your Tree

You can acquire a tree report from an arborist, which will identify the necessary actions and measures needed for mitigation. However, finding the right arborist for your needs can be challenging if you live in an area without licensing. To ensure they are genuinely knowledgeable and qualified, make sure that any potential contractors have access to all of these important documents:

  • A worker’s compensation policy or liability insurance for property damage to a customer.
  • A Certificate II in Horticulture is required for both ground and climbing employment.
  • A Certificate III in Horticulture is required for job supervision.

Choosing an arborist is a big decision that requires careful research. To make the process easier, ensure they provide all required documentation and references to back up their experience in tree removal projects. Costs vary between providers.

Avoid Penalties With The Help of Arborists

Ensuring all rules and regulations are followed when cutting a tree down is essential. Investing in professional arborists is the only way to guarantee you will avoid fines, litigation and other penalties.

We have years of experience helping homeowners easily remove trees from their properties at Tree Wise Men. We offer council-approved tree lopping & tree removal services across Perth, keeping costs to a minimum while providing top-notch results.

Contact us now for more information on how our services can help you save thousands of dollars in fines and get precisely what you need regarding tree removals.


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