Weddin Shire Council

Backyard Open Air Burning

Generally each year there are concerns raised by the community about the smoke being generated from the burning of domestic waste in urban yards with some fire callouts to both the NSW Fire Brigades and the NSW Rural Fire Service.  Council receives several complaints each year about smoke from burning of green and solid waste in residential areas.

Smoke generation within rural communities is not restricted to back yard type burning, with many homes having wood fuel heating and the possible agricultural burning on the edges of the urban areas all contribute to smoke pollution. It is evident during the cooler months that the inversion layer (cold air) is trapping smoke by early evening and this is at times less than roof height.

Smoke and other air pollution is regulated under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2002. Both the Act and Regulation give specific standards (general obligations) for burning and detail the methods that can be used to prohibit or control burning within a Council area.

Listed below are a number of matters to consider prior to lighting a back yard fire.

General obligation to prevent or minimise air pollution

(1)     A person who burns anything in the open or in an incinerator must do so by such practicable means as are necessary to prevent or minimise air pollution.

(2)     The means of preventing or minimising air pollution may include the following:

          (a)  taking into account the potential for smoke impacting on any person having regard to:

                        (i)  wind direction, and

                        (ii)  weather conditions, and

                        (iii)  the length of time that the material being burnt is likely to burn,

          (b)  taking reasonable measures to ensure that the material being burnt is not wet,

          (c)  burning only material that is suitable for disposal by burning, having regard to possible effects on human health and the environment.

Prohibition on burning certain articles

The Regulation specifies a number of prohibited items that are not allowed to be burnt; these prohibited articles are any of the following,

          (a)  tyres,

          (b)  coated wire,

          (c)  paint containers and residues,

          (d)  solvent containers and residues,

          (e)  timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP).

Authorised officers (some Council staff) are permitted under the Act to request the extinguishment of a fire that is considered as posing a threat to health, discomfort or inconvenience to any person.

If you require further information, contact the Weddin Shire Council - Environmental Services section.