The Development Act 1993 (SA) provides that any activity that damages a significant or regulated tree is development.
A ‘regulated tree’ is:
A ‘significant tree’ is:
Any activity that could damage these trees is prohibited without development approval. Under the section 4 of Development Act 1993 (SA) ‘tree damaging activity’ is defined as:
In addition, excessive pruning can also meet the definition of ‘tree damaging activity’. Under reguation 6A(8) of the Development Regulations 2008 (SA) pruning that does not remove more than 30% of the crown of the tree and is required to remove dead/diseased wood or branches posing a risk to buildings or persons is excluded from the definition.
There are heavy penalties for doing prohibited work on a significant or regulated tree without permission. Urgent work may be done if necessary to protect persons or buildings, but must, so far as is reasonably practical, be undertaken to cause the minimum amount of damage to the tree. Approval must be applied for afterwards [Development Act 1993 (SA) s 54A].
There are a number of exemptions listed in the Development Regulations 2008 (SA) which exclude certain trees from the provisions concerning regulated and significant trees.
Council approval is not required to remove a significant or regulated tree if it is:
A council may either approve an application, approve it subject to conditions or refuse it. No notice of applications will need to be given to neighbours unless the tree is on council land. The normal application fees apply for tree owners but there is no fee for an affected neighbour seeking approval to lop on their side of the boundary.
If approval has been given to remove a regulated or significant tree, the council may make it a condition that replacement trees are planted or that money is paid into an urban tree fund. An applicant has the right to appeal to the Environment, Resources and Development Court within two months of the council's decision.
For more information see the SA government webpage on Regulated and significant trees.