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Burning of Open Fires and Incinerators

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The prevention of air pollution in the Hilltops Local Government Area is regulated under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2021.

Smoke pollution is a serious irritant that can aggravate existing heart and lung problems like emphysema and asthma. It can also cause:

  • Breathing difficulties and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis
  • Headaches, tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Itchy or burning eyes and throat irritations
  • Decreased lung function in children

Therefore, it is important to ensure that you do not cause smoke pollution where it can be of an impact to air quality, another human’s health or amenity, or impact neighboring properties as specified in the POEO (Clean Air) Regulation.

Council discourages the burning of vegetation in urban areas to minimise fine particulate air pollution and recommends utilising the garden organics (green) bins for disposal if you reside in Harden or Young. If you are a Boorowa resident, it is free to take your green waste to the Boorowa waste facility. It is also helpful to remember that you could utilise vegetation for mulching or composting as alternatives to burning it.

What can I burn?

Part 3 in schedule 1 in the POEO (Clean Air) Regulation allows the burning of dry vegetation in the open or in an incinerator as long as it’s done in a manner that minimizes air pollution and does not impact any person, neighbouring property or traffic. It is a requirement to ensure you only burn dry vegetation and no other materials. Special consideration must be given to the following to ensure smoke does not interfere with adjoining properties:

  • Wind and wind direction
  • Weather conditions
  • Length of time the materials will take to burn
  • Proximity to neighbouring properties
  • Likelihood of smoke affecting adjoining properties/residents

Vegetation includes dry untreated timber. Green vegetation must not be burned as it will increase the smoke load. If you are unsure of what is classified as vegetation, please contact Council.

The fire needs to be attended by a competent person for the duration of the burning activity and have sufficient firefighting resources on hand to safely maintain the fire.

Penalty infringement notices may be issued if anything is burned that causes air pollution or impacts on the health or amenity of surrounding neighbours.

What can’t I burn?

You are not allowed to burn the following items in the Hilltops Local Government Area:

  • Building materials
  • Domestic waste
  • Tyres
  • Pallets (may be contaminated with chemicals)
  • Coated wire
  • Treated Timber with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP)
  • Paints or chemical containers, or anything with residues
  • Household items such as furniture, carpet, mattresses

Do I need approval from Council?

Part 3 in Schedule 1 of the POEO (Clean Air) Regulations only allows the burning of dry vegetation without having to obtain prior approval from Council. In certain situations, approval may be required from the RFS or NSW Fire & Rescue, or the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA). A person must not burn anything other than vegetation, in the open or in an incinerator, except in accordance with an approval. If you are unsure if you require approval, please contact Council for more information.

If you receive approval to burn, you must still remember to:

  • Check with Rural Fire Service and EPA whether any fire or other restrictions are in force for the period you plan to burn
  • Prevent or minimize air pollution and impact on surrounding neighbours & traffic
  • Never burn toxic items such as tyres, coated wire, paint and solvent containers and treated or contaminated timbers

Do I need a permit from the Rural Fire Service (RFS)?

A fire permit is required from the RFS for all fires during the Bushfire Danger Period and depending on the type of fire, other times of the year as well. The bushfire danger period generally runs from 1 October to 31 March each year but may vary due to local conditions. Contact the local South West Slopes office of the Rural Fire Service for more information on bushfire danger periods or permits to burn on (02) 6386 3170.


Council is not the authority in emergencies.

Call 000 in an emergency bushfire event.


Useful Links

Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2021, NSW Legislation

NSW EPA Open Burning Reducing Pollution

NSW Rural Fire Service – Plan and Prepare

NSW Rural Fire Service – Fires near me

Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans

Fire Permits

Further Information

Contact Council on 1300 445 586 or if you have any further enquiries relating to burning of open fires.