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Often local council lawyers in Sydney are approached by clients in relation to ongoing tree disputes with their neighbours.

The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 allows for certain disputes to be adjudicated by the courts.

If a dispute reaches the Land and Environment Court, the Court will not make an order unless the applicant has made a reasonable effort to reach agreement with the neighbour prior to going to court.  As such, a good starting point for disputes which cannot be resolved between neighbours is to seek mediation, this can help to resolve disputes in a cheaper manner than litigation.  Community justice centres across NSW facilitate mediation, it is a free service.  Mediators stay independent and help to facilitate each party to have the opportunity to be heard, keep the discussion on track and help any attempts to make an agreement.

The types of matters than can be adjudicated by the courts are where:

  • tree branches are overhanging ;
  • roots have grown onto a neighbour’s property; or
  • high hedges are blocking sunlight or views from a neighbour’s property.

Where the tree branch or root has caused, is likely to cause or is causing damage to a person or property the Land and Environment Court can make orders to:

  • prune or remove the tree;
  • maintain tree at a specific height/width;
  • order removal of tree and replacement with different species;
  • owner of tree compensate neighbour for damages.

Where a high hedge is blocking sunlight or views the Land and Environment Court can make orders to:

  • prune or remove the hedge;
  • maintain the hedge at a specific height or width;
  • order to remove the trees in the hedge to be removed and replaced with a different species.

The Land and Environment Court also has the power to enforce orders made by the Court that have not been complied with.

Usually, parties to tree dispute proceedings will pay their own costs.  The court has the power to award costs if it finds that it is reasonable to do so, for example if a party has unreasonably delayed the proceedings.

If you would like assistance with a tree dispute or assistance in any other planning, environment or local government matter.  Contact our expert team of planning lawyers, local government lawyers and environmental lawyers in Parramatta on 1800 300 308 or

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to clients and readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as definitive or complete statement of the relevant laws applicable to your circumstances.