Backyard Burning

What is backyard burning?

‘Backyard burning’ means the burning of piled-up or standing vegetation, as well as other material on urban blocks and rural-residential properties.

Backyard burning doesn’t include forestry burning or fuel hazard reduction burns undertaken by government agencies, nor does it refer to small backyard fires that are solely used for heating and/or cooking. However, if you use a fire to get rid of unwanted garden or other waste, you are backyard burning.

In Tasmania, the main rules for backyard burning are in Part 4 of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulations 2019 (Smoke Regulations). These rules apply across the whole State.

Why is there a need to control smoke from backyard burning?

Smoke from backyard burning can contribute to excessive levels of fine particles in the air which are known to increase the incidence of heart and respiratory diseases. Smoke can also be an environmental nuisance for neighbours. The regulations will help to reduce these effects.

What are the restrictions?
Backyard burning in the open or using an incinerator is banned on all blocks of less than 2,000 square metres in area, throughout the State. Most urban residential blocks are less than 2,000 square metres.

If my block is greater than 2,000 square metres can I still burn?

While the regulations do not prohibit burning on blocks 2,000 square metres or larger, they specify the types of waste or fuel that may be burnt on blocks of any size. The burning of treated or painted wood, plastics, rubber and other unsuitable materials is prohibited. The requirements of the Fire Service Act 1979 also apply to larger blocks.

Are barbecues included under these restrictions?
Barbecues are not subject to the prohibition on backyard burning but they are subject to the same visible smoke restrictions as wood heaters. A separate pamphlet is available on heater smoke emissions.

How much can I be fined if my backyard burning breaches the regulations?
A council officer can issue an infringement notice, or you may be prosecuted. An infringement notice is an on the spot fine of 5 penalty units. The maximum penalty for backyard burning will be $5000 if the matter is taken to court but it is expected the court action will only be taken if other approaches consistently fail.

Is the community patrolled and fines issued for illegal backyard burning?
Formal warnings will usually be the first step, with formal action being taken only where people persist in backyard burning that breaches the regulations. The approach to enforcing the regulations is a matter for the individual councils to decide. In an area where there is a particular problem with air quality, the council might conduct patrols.

More information
For more information on what is and isn’t permitted as well as fire bans and permit requirements, please visit:

www.epa.tas.gov.au/epa/air/backyard-burning
www.fire.tas.gov.au/Show?pageId=colFireOutdoor

Fire Hazards in the Sorell Municipal Area

Every year Council is faced with the time consuming and costly task of inspecting and arranging for the removal of fire hazards throughout the Municipal Area.

Whilst Council is aware that material on the ground may not burn at present, the purpose of Council notices is to remind property owners of the need to ensure that flammable material is removed before it dries out and becomes a threat to neighbouring properties.

Property Owners Action – Council urges you to reduce the danger which could arise from growth on your property and to keep that land clear from undergrowth until at least the end of March next year.

Council’s Action

When fire hazards are confirmed Council has no alternative but to issue abatement notices in accordance with Division 6 of the Local Government Act 1993. Failure to comply with abatement notices will result in the land being compulsorily cleared at the owner’s expense.

Please Note – All enquiries should be directed to Council during normal working hours on (03) 6269 0000

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