Council warns rogue ‘Tree Loppers’ are operating in Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains City Council warns of unlicensed tree removal contractors, or ‘Tree Loppers’, operating in the city looking to exploit vulnerable residents.

These rogue operators go door to door, touting for work. They apply high pressure sales tactics and demand excessive cash payments.

They make a raft of false claims including residents do not need to seek approval from Council to remove trees; falsely identifying healthy trees as diseased or dying; falsely claiming to be working under the direction of Council; or threatening homeowners with a fake fine from Council if they do not agree to the work.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said, “Tree Lopper is the name often given to an unqualified person who will cut trees for a fee. An Arborist is a certified specialist in the care, assessment and maintenance of trees. Some residents, particularly the vulnerable members of our community, may be conned into believing that these unscrupulous operators are qualified professionals when they are not.”

“Residents should be wary of contractors arriving unsolicited at their property trying to force costly works upon them, often greatly higher than qualified arborists’ fees.”

NSW Fair Trading warns door-knocking tree loppers rarely hold appropriate insurance, usually require cash payments and often leave work unfinished, particularly if they receive upfront payment. Furthermore, as many of these operators are underinsured, if they injure themself on private property the owner may be liable.

Fraudulent tree loppers are responsible for many of the illegal tree removals in Australia, leaving homeowners vulnerable to fines if the contractors cannot be located.

Acting on poor advice from these operators is a risk. Residents should contact Council if they encounter such individuals and they should contact NSW Police if they feel threatened or intimidated by any person falsely claiming they represent, or work with, Council.

Any resident who wishes to prune or remove a tree should seek the advice of a reputable local arborist and apply for permission from Council. You should always ask the arborist to provide you with a copy of their certificate of currency of insurance, and their certificate three arborist qualification.

Residents should be aware that even if their property is in a designated 10/50 map area, the 10/50 vegetation clearing code of practice must also be satisfied before an exemption is valid. Residents should check with Council if they are unsure if they meet the criteria. A list of exemptions can be found on Council’s website and, if the works are not exempt, an application needs to be made. You can find out more or apply online at Council’s website.

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