Canopy Tree FAQ’s

10/50 Rule

If you live in an area close to the bush, you need to prepare your home. The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme gives people living near the bush an additional way of being better prepared for bush fires.

The scheme allows people in a designated area to:

  • Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking council approval; and
  • Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking council approval.

Image showing the clearing of trees within 10 metres of a home and vegetation within 50 metres of a home

Further changes have been announced to the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme. Legislative changes came into effect on 28 August 2015 and the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice has now been amended and takes effect commencing 4 September 2015.

You must now consider how the following changes affect your clearing proposal:

  1. The definition of a tree has been amended to include multi-stemmed trees. This means you can no longer remove multi-stemmed trees beyond 10 metres.
  2. The distance at which a tree may be removed has been clarified. You may only remove a tree if any part of the trunk that measures more than 30 centimetres in circumference (around the trunk) at a height of 1.3 metres above the ground, is within 10 metres of the external wall of the building.
  3. If you are using the distance from a building on your neighbours land to use the 10/50 entitlement (and your buildings are not within 10 metres or 50 metres respectively), you must receive their written consent. Where the tree or vegetation is within 10 metres or 50 metres respectively of buildings on more than one adjoining parcel of land, you must receive written consent from each landowner who adjoins your land.
  4. Clearing adjacent to farm sheds is now permitted under the 10/50 scheme.

Please also refer to the NSW Rural Fire Service online tool. Canopy Tree has a link to councils which outline various tree and vegetation requirements on our services page. To see the list of councils, click here.

How do I know if the contractor is going to do the job safely?

You should obtain a written quote from the contractor that contains the contact details and ABN of the contractor.

All tree work should be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the WorkCover Code of Practice: Amenity Tree Industry 1998.

The contractor should be able to explain to you what measures they will be taking to ensure the safety of people affected by the work, such as neighbours and people walking or driving past where the work is being carried out.

If the work is being carried out near power lines the contractor must maintain a safe distance from the power lines or be an “accredited person” to work within what are known as “approach distances”. If work is being carried out on a tree that is within 3 metres of any power line including a service line, then the person carrying out the work must be an accredited person who has completed a recognised course of training.

What insurances should the contractor have?

The contractor should hold a current workers compensation insurance policy for their employees. The contractor should also hold a current public liability insurance policy. These insurance policies provide protection for you in the case of damage being caused to your property, your neighbour’s property or people being injured while the work is being carried out.

What qualifications should the contractor have?

Work undertaken by inappropriately qualified contractors could result in major damage to your property, your neighbour’s property or injury to people and may leave you liable for any costs associated with this.

WorkCover NSW recommends that for tree work carried out on the ground a minimum of one person holds the qualification of Certificate II in Horticulture (Arboriculture). All tree climbing work should be carried out by a person who holds a minimum Certificate II in Horticulture (Arboriculture) or be undertaking a course to obtain this qualification. All tree climbing work should be directly supervised by a person with a minimum qualification of Certificate III in Horticulture (Arboriculture).

These qualifications are consistent with the requirements of the Australian Standard AS4373: 2007 Pruning Amenity Trees.