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Do I need Council Approval for Tree Removal?

Jan 22, 2021

Are you aware that if you require a tree to be removed from your property, you may need to lodge an application for Council approval for tree removal.

The Gold Coast City Council has a process for requesting tree removal. It can often be a little confusing, particularly when you’re not sure what’s needed.

Each local council sets its own regulations regarding Queensland tree removal laws. To help better understand Gold Coast tree removal laws, we’ve prepared an easy guide on how to safely and legally remove your trees.

Note: The below information is to be used as a general guide only. Exceptions can be made depending on the size of property and zoning overlays. It is always recommended that a qualified Arborist confirm the species and location of your trees to ensure a correct assessment.

If you have a large tree in your yard that is a concern or have an inkling that you will need to obtain approval, give us a call.

Call Today 07 5574 4477

For all your Tree Service Requirements

Why do I need council approval for tree removal?

The assessors are fully trained arborists. They look at the application, assess the tree, and make a decision based on the health and well-being of the tree, before putting the decision in writing. 

It doesn’t matter if the tree is on a residential or a commercial site, it’s not worth taking the chance. For example, earlier in the year we had a call from the manager of a complex, they had their trees lopped without acquiring council approval. Council assessed the trees and after discussion with the body corporate, law enforcement, and development compliance department, they were left with costs of about $30,000 to remove the poorly pruned trees and replant mature trees in their place – and they risked a non-compliance fine of up to $960,000! We talk more about the fines and penalties for cutting down trees without approval lower down.

Some Gold Coast trees are protected and require council approval. Here’s a general guide on what you CAN remove on most private properties:

  • Any tree that is within 3 meters of your house or approved building structure
  • Any tree that is within 1.5 meters of your fence or pool fence
  • Any tree that is smaller than 4 meters in height or less than 40cm in circumference
  • Any pest species tree defined as, Cocos Palm, Coral Tree, Cadagi Tree, Slash Pine Tree and Umbrella Tree
gold coast tree removal

If your trees fit any of the above, then it looks like you can remove them without the need for consent. We always recommend you contact one of our qualified arborists to inspect your trees to correctly confirm the species and location before undertaking any removal.

council approval tree removal

How do I get approval from the Gold Coast City Council to remove a tree?

If your tree does not meet the above self-assessable list, or your tree is located on body corporate common property, then it will need approval from the Gold Coast City Council before you can have it removed.

Council approvals shouldn’t be a deterrent. Dangerous, hazardous and damaging trees can still be removed if you notify the council in the correct way. You can choose to lodge it yourself through the Gold Coast City Council website or have your arborist do it for you.

Frontier Tree Services will lodge your application for you and manage the process through to the end. No stress, no confusing forms and no trips to the council office. It’s all taken care of for you. Our chief arborist is up to date with local law and the current Gold Coast City Council planning scheme. This allows him to guide you in the right direction to get the best outcome possible.

Tree removal on body corporate land

All trees on body corporate land are protected and require Council approval before any vegetation can be removed. This is done to ensure vegetation levels are maintained from the original approved landscaping plan. Any changes to this must be recorded by means of a Council application.

We understand that body corporate tree management is not as simple as managing private property, and there are often several trees that need attention. If your body corporate has multiple trees that need assessing, speak to us about our vegetation management plans and how this can assist in getting your tree removal approved by the Council.

If you have any questions regarding Gold Coast tree removal laws and how they affect your landscaping projects contact our team today. Our office staff are up to date on all gold coast tree removal laws and our qualified arborists will provide advice specific to your properties trees.

body corporate tree removal

How does the process of applying for council approval to remove a tree work?

  • Firstly, invite Frontier Tree Services to provide a free quote and then accept your quotation.
  • Book a date in our schedule for the work to be completed (approximately four weeks time, pending approval)
  • Sign the council consent form (provided by us) and then allow us to do the rest!


What happens next?


  • We then prepare your tree removal application for Gold Coast Council, and lodge it, along with a professional, detailed site plan and works proposal, for the council assessing arborists.
  • The council will then process the application through their system which usually takes around 3 – 4 weeks. During this time they may send an arborist to your site for a visual inspection.
  • Once the decision notice has been issued, we’ll contact you by phone to go over the details of your decision notice and arrange a suitable day to attend to the approved work.
  • We can also assist you with any additional requests the council may have, such as re-planting, arborist reports or wildlife management.


Note: All lead times quoted are reflective of the time frames provided by the Gold Coast City Council.

What are the fines for cutting down trees without approval on the Gold Coast?

Many people don’t fully understand the consequences or know that there are fines for cutting down trees on the Gold Coast. We think that because they are our trees, we can remove them if we want!

Unfortunately, this is not true. There are fines for cutting down trees on the Gold Coast if the tree is protected. Fines and penalties for tree removal and lopping will vary depending on the determined value the Council poses on the trees.

If your tree is protected and it is removed without the necessary approval, then the Gold Coast City Council can impose fines and replanting for damage to vegetation. The same goes for improper pruning practices (lopping) of protected trees and trees located on body corporate land.

It’s important to remember that this law does not just apply to tree removals. All protected trees must be pruned in accordance with AS4373: 1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees by a L3 qualified arborist. 

arborist gold coast

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a qualified arborist undertake your tree work to comply with these requirements. Acting on the wrong advice could be a costly mistake. Don’t let this happen to you! Avoid fines for cutting down trees on the Gold Coast by speaking with a qualified arborist and get the right advice for your trees.

Contact Frontier Tree Services for all your tree management needs today.

At Frontier Tree Services, you can count on us to give your trees and vegetation the highest attention to detail, and to help you determine whether your trees need pruning, lopping or complete removal. We’ll walk you through the entire process from beginning to end for a great result for yourself and your trees. Call us today!

Call Today 07 5574 4477

For all your Tree Service Requirements

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