Love thy neighbour but not their trees?

Posted on September 28th, 2016

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by Felicity Wardhaugh

love-thy-neighbour-but-not-their-tree
Felicity Wardhaugh
is a Special Counsel at Mullane & Lindsay in Newcastle and specialises in wills and estate planning,
commercial dispute resolution & litigation, and employment law.

The Land and Environment Court provides assistance to neighbours who are in dispute about trees. It is obviously preferable to talk to neighbours rather than take them to Court.  However, knowing that the Court provides this type of service is helpful.  It might persuade a neighbour to be more reasonable. Section 7 Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 enables an owner of land to apply to the Court for an order to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property or injury to a person as a direct consequence of a neighbour’s tree. A recent case of Van Waes & anor v Blakeney [2016] NSWLEC 1078 demonstrates the work of the Court.  In that case, an application was made to the Court for a large tree on a neighbours’ property to be pruned.  The tree was dropping branches and had damaged a tree on the applicant’s property.  The applicants also complained that bats inhabited the tree.  The Court officer (Commissioner) noted that the tree was a particularly healthy and beautiful Illawarra Flame Tree and under the Act she had no power to order the removal of a tree on the basis it provided habitat for animals such as bats.  However, she made orders for the tree to be pruned once every two years at the neighbours’ cost to minimise the risk of falling branches on the applicant’s property.

Felicity Wardhaugh is a Special Counsel at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Wills and Estate Planning, Commercial and other Litigation and Employment Law. If you require any assistance in these areas please contact Felicity Wardhaugh or contact our Newcastle office.

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