Trees and vegetation crossing property boundaries is a major cause of neighbourhood conflict. This issue is regulated by State legislation under the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011. Council does not have responsibility for enforcing the Act.
Should you have an issue with branches overhanging your dividing fence, you should contact the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Removal on private property
If you wish to remove trees from your property, you should know that there are vegetation overlays throughout the Cairns Regional Council and permission should be sought from Council prior to removing trees.
Planting on nature strip or Council land
Planting or removal of trees on your nature strip or other Council controlled areas and roads does require a permit from Council. You should contact Council on 4044 3044.
Vegetation removal beaches, foreshores & parks
Removal of vegetation from Council controlled beaches, foreshores and parks is prohibited. If you observe this occurring, please contact Council for investigation on 1300 69 22 47.
What you can do
Contact Council on 4044 3044 if you have any questions about vegetation management.
Advice on tree disputes
Disagreements about trees and vegetation crossing property boundaries are a major cause of neighbourhood conflict.
The Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 allows residents to resolve neighbourhood disputes more easily. It also encourages residents to be good neighbours and resolve their disputes concerning trees and fences in a friendly and timely manner. Council does not have responsibility for enforcing the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011.
For more information on dealing with tree disputes, visit the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) website, email QCAT at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 753 228 (weekday business hours).
Talk to your neighbours
In neighbourhood disputes, the best approach is always try to reach an amicable agreement. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party, however an objective mediator can assist neighbours to reach a mutual agreed solution. Mediators are available through the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Legal Action should be a last resort as it can be costly and tends to worsen neighbour relations.
Every year, thousands of Queenslanders find themselves in the middle of a neighbourhood dispute about a tree or a fence. The Act outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Under the Act the proper care and maintenance of a tree will be the responsibility of the tree keeper. The Act provides greater choices for neighbours about trees affecting their property.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has jurisdiction to hear and decide any matter in relation to a tree in which it is alleged that the land is affected by the tree. QCAT provides a single tribunal through which the community can access justice. QCAT provides the community with a more accessible, informal and responsive means of resolving neighbourhood disputes.
The Act does not apply to all trees
The Act does not apply to trees situated on rural land, land that is more than four hectares in size, or land owned by a Local Government that is used as a public park. It also excludes trees planted or maintained for certain purposes such as for commercial purposes or as a condition of a Development Approval.
The application of the tree provisions is limited to urban areas and to cases where the land affected by a tree adjoins the neighbour's property or where the lands are separated by a road.
If you need further information or assistance, the following agencies may be able to help.