Smoke from burning activities can contribute to excessive levels of fine particles in the air, which are known to increase the incidence of respiratory diseases and can also create a nuisance to your neighbours.
Smoke emissions in Tasmania are regulated by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulations 2019.
Blocks more than 2000m²
No specific requirements under the Smoke Regulations, but we can still take enforcement action under nuisance provisions if someone is burning regularly or the smoke is really bad.
Blocks less than 2000m²
Can burn off, but person burning must be able to demonstrate they’ve used “all practicable means as are necessary to prevent or minimise air pollution”. Means of preventing or minimising air pollution are to include:
(a) means that have regard to the potential for smoke to have an adverse effect on human health and the environment, taking into account –
- wind direction and wind speed; and
- weather conditions; and
- the length of time that the vegetation or vegetative waste being burnt is likely to burn; and
- the proximity of any habitable building; and
(b) taking reasonable measures to ensure that –
- only dry vegetation or vegetative waste is burnt; and
- only vegetation or vegetative waste that is suitable for disposal by burning is burnt.
For example, if someone was only burning once on a clear day with very little wind, we probably can’t stop them. But if someone’s been burning every day for weeks and there’s smoke blanketing an entire street, that’s unacceptable.
If Council believes you have not given adequate consideration to these things, financial penalties can be applied. Because of the potential to cause nuisance, the Council does not recommend people who live in residential areas undertake backyard burning on their property.
If you are planning to burn off, you can only burn dry vegetation. Under no circumstances can you burn the following:
- Coated wire
- Paint or chemical containers and residues
- Treated or painted timber
- Rubber (including foam rubber)
- Household waste
If you live on a block greater than 2000 m², you are permitted to burn dry vegetation, but you cannot cause a nuisance under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 or the Local Government Act 1993.
Heating & Cooking Appliances
Smoke emission limits also apply to certain heating and cooking appliances. Under the Regulations “heating appliances” includes woodheaters, fireplaces, fire pits and fire pots, and “cooking appliances” includes solid-fuel-burning barbecues and solid-fuel-burning pizza ovens. Note that gas and electric heating and cooking appliances are not included.
It is acceptable for heating and cooking appliances to emit some smoke, but the smoke cannot be excessive or continue for extended periods of time.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) provides a number of resources regarding smoke management:
My neighbour is creating a smoke issue. What can I do?
Quite often, people will not realise that smoke from their fire or other activities is affecting people in the area. If no one tells them about the problem, they don’t know it exists. So as a first step, it is best to approach your neighbour politely and let them know the smoke from their property is bothering you. From there, you can discuss the problem and try to find a solution.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can contact the Council on 03 6424 0511 for assistance. The Council will assess the situation and, if there is a problem, encourage your neighbour to address it. If this approach is unsuccessful, we can take enforcement action if the situation is bad enough.
For further information or advice you can contact Council’s Environmental Health team on 03 6424 0511.