Throughout the year people may choose to clean up and maintain their property. This often creates waste, including green/vegetative waste. The most appropriate options for the removal of waste includes composting, mulching, recycling, or disposal at a refuse disposal site. One option people sometimes consider is burning off.
Burning off in Tasmania is governed by the 'Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulations 2019'. This states two types of restrictions on backyard burning:
- Regulation 9 makes it an offence to undertake burning on land with an area less than 2,000m2 unless:
All practicable means are taken to prevent or minimise air pollution;
It is done in accordance with a permit under;
o the Fire Service Act 1979 , if required,
o an environment protection notice (EPN), if required, or
o a council bylaw, if relevant.
- Regulation 8 makes it an offence to burn ‘prohibited waste’.
To prevent or minimise air pollution from burn offs, you must take into account the impact the smoke may have on neighbours and the environment by considering wind direction, weather conditions and the length of time the material is likely to burn. The material must be dry and not contain any prohibited waste.
Prohibited waste incudes: asbestos, tyres, coated wire, paint containers and residues, chemical containers and residues, rubber, painted and treated wood (treated with copper chrome arsenate [CCA], pentachlorophenol [PCP], oil or any other chemical, plastic, oil, household waste, linen, foam rubber, and polystyrene. Under no circumstances can prohibited wastes be burnt.
Most residential blocks are less than 2,000m2, therefore burning off should only be undertaken when no other option is possible. One of the main reasons for this is due to the sensitivity of the Tamar Valley airshed and its air quality. There is a considerable amount of smoke emitted into the airshed from sources such as woodheater smoke, industry burns and bush fires. Any additional contribution to this has a significant effect on the airshed, air quality and other people’s enjoyment of the environment.
Where burning off is absolutely necessary, it is important to note that this activity may only occur where there are no fire restrictions or bans and when it does not cause an environmental nuisance. To check current fire permits / bans, please refer to the Tasmanian Fire Service - http://www.fire.tas.gov.au.
For more information, please see the Backyard Burning | EPA Tasmania brochure.
Smoke reduces the quality of the air we breathe. Prolonged exposure to smoke from wood heaters is a significant problem for people who have chronic illnesses like asthma and heart conditions. In Tasmania, poor air quality is common during the colder months when the air is calm, as wood smoke tends to build up and linger for days, particularly in low-lying areas.
If you use a wood heater you can reduce smoke pollution and help your neighbours to breathe easier. Simply follow the following steps to burn your wood heater brighter, warmer and cleaner, this winter:
- Always burn with a flame - don't let your fire smoulder
- After reloading, open the air control and burn your fire on high for 20 minutes, especially before going to bed
- Only burn dry, seasoned wood
- Ensure your flue is clean
Further information on smoke can be found on the Environmental Protection Authority Website.