Open burning - reducing air pollution from fires

Burning wood, rubbish and vegetation in open fires and incinerators can cause smoke, which is a major cause of air pollution. To protect the environment and your health, there are only certain situations when fires can be lit outside in NSW.

Smoke pollution can aggravate existing heart and lung problems like angina, emphysema and asthma. It can also cause

  • itchy or burning eyes and throat irritations
  • breathing difficulties and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis
  • headaches, tiredness or chest pain
  • decreased lung function in children.

Is your fire legal?

Backyard burning and unauthorised incineration are prohibited at all times in all council areas in the Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle regions, and in other NSW council areas listed in Schedule 8 of the Clean Air Regulation.

Contact your local council to find out what and when you can burn in your area and if a permit is required.

Part 3 of the Clean Air Regulation sets out the details of permitted and prohibited fires.

No-burn notices issued by the EPA or Total Fire Bans issued by the Rural Fire Service override any of these conditions except in specific circumstances.

When can fires be lit outside?

In areas where backyard burning is prohibited, there are only certain situations where fires can be lit outside in NSW. These include

  • barbecues or camping
  • eligible hazard reduction work
  • some agricultural purposes
  • authorised fire-fighting training

No-burn notices issued by the EPA or Total Fire Bans issued by the Rural Fire Service override any of these conditions except in specific circumstances.

If you are planning to light an outside fire, you should check with the EPA, your local council or the NSW Rural Fire Service to make sure your fire is legal and obtain a permit to burn if needed.

Permits to burn

If you are given a permit to burn, you must

  • prevent or minimise air pollution
  • not burn specified articles including tyres, coated wire, paint and solvent containers and certain treated timbers (for more information, ask your council)
  • check with the EPA and your council whether any fire restrictions are in force for the period you plan to burn

No-burn notices issued by the EPA or Total Fire Bans issued by the Rural Fire Service override any permits obtained except in specific circumstances.

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