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Tree Disputes








Tree Disputes Between Neighbours

If a tree grows on your property, you can prune and remove it if it is likely to damage a wall, a fence or paving, provided you obtain a Council Permit.

But what can you do if the tree grows on your neighbour’s property, and the branches or the roots are causing damage, or are likely to cause damage to your property, or a high hedge is planted inside a boundary seriously obstructing your sunlight or view?

In NSW, the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act gives you the right to take action against the neighbour’s trees – and makes the neighbour legally responsible for damage caused.

See Full Article


Council Trees on footpaths and reserves.
Hunter's Hill Council loses fight to keep a noxious weed

Local Councils are strange beasts. But none are stranger than the Hunter's Hill Council which administers a leafy garden suburb overlooking Sydney Harbour.

When Dr Donnelly asked the Council to remove an old camphor laurel street tree growing outside his home because the large tree roots were bowing and lifting his front fence (see images), initially the Council agreed. But after the Council received 21 requests from the neighbours for the tree to remain, it changed its mind. The tree was not to be removed.

Dr Donnelly, despairing at the damage to the heritage fence he had spent $100,000 to build, took the Council to Court.

After 5 hearing days and what I would estimate $120,000 in legal fees, Dr Donnelly won his case. The Court found that the Council had committed the tort of private nuisance by allowing the tree roots to bow and uplift the front fence, crack the front path and displace the gate pier. The Court made these orders:

  1. Compensation for repairing the fence, gate and path - $28,765.33
  2. Compensation for interference with loss and enjoyment of the land $5,000
  3. Removal of the tree, at Council's cost, within 4 months
  4. Council to pay Dr Donnelly's legal fees

The Court was dismissive of the Council's opposition to the removal of the tree "it does seem to place the tree and its roots above the owner’s private rights to seek to avoid further unreasonable physical damage to his property".

But stranger still, camphor laurel trees have been declared to be a noxious weed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (NSW) which means that the State Government wants them to be removed. It's taking a long time for this message to reach the Hunter's Hill Council!

For more, click on my case note Court orders the Hunter's Hill Council to remove a camphor laurel street tree

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