Come on baby, light my fire…. But only if you have a permit!

Do you have a fire pit in your backyard or a heater that produces a lot of smoke? If so beware, changes to the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (the Policy) on 23 July mean that you may no longer be able to ‘throw another log on the fire’

If your heating creates excessive smoke, you burn wood in your fire pit or you burn plant matter on your property you may be in breach of the Policy or require a burning permit.

The changes to the Policy simplify the previous three policy, two guideline system, consolidating everything into one Policy to provide what the EPA refers to as a ‘whole-of-air-shed’ approach.

Solid Fuel Heaters

Under the Policy the owner or occupier of premises is under an obligation not to cause or permit excessive smoke to be emitted into the air from a solid fuel heater. What is excessive is defined as a plume of smoke which is visible in the air for a continuous period of not less than 10 minutes or if the smoke extends more than 10 metres into the air, for a period of 30 seconds or more. There are also requirements for the supply and installation of solid fuel heaters and a prohibition against the alteration of the structure, exhaust system or air inlet when a certificate of compliance exists.

Burning in the Open, Fire Pits and Burning Permits

In addition, the Policy now prohibits burning in the open in all Council areas without a burning permit. This includes the burning of anything other than charcoal in outdoor fire pits, braziers and chimineas, the sale of green firewood where the moisture content exceeds 25% dry weight, and an increase in the focus on the risk to health and the environment of stack emission limits.

If you live in a built-up or populated area in metropolitan Adelaide, burning in the open can take place:

  • for the preparation of food or beverages (without a permit);
  • for the use of a brazier, chiminea or fire pit for outdoor heating provided it is charcoal (without a permit);
  • for the disposal of agricultural and forestry waste (with an individual permit or general notice issued by Council);
  • for fire prevention or control ( with an individual permit or general notice issued by Council); and
  • in other circumstances where the Council has granted approval or a general notice.

Outside of the metropolitan area, burning in the open can take place without a permit:

  • for the preparation of food or beverage;
  • for the use of brazier, chiminea or fire pit for heating an outdoor area provided it is charcoal, dry timber or other plant matter;
  • for fire prevention or control in accordance with SA CFS Code of Practice for Vegetation Pile Burning 2015;
  • for the disposal of agricultural or forestry waste in accordance with the SA CFS Code of Practice for Broad Acre Burning 2015;
  • for recreational purposes (campfires or barbecue etc.); and
  • in other circumstances where the Council has provided approval or a general notice.

Air Quality Objectives and Listed Wastes

The EPA may amend the Policy to declare that localised air quality objectives apply within a designated area. This means that if you are in a ‘designated area’ you must comply with any mandatory measures, including emissions concentrations and testing, monitoring or modelling methodology.

In addition to the above, the Policy also extends the list of wastes (under Schedule 1, Part B of the Environment Protection Act) that cannot be burnt without an environmental authorisation and now specifies a risk based criteria which the EPA must consider in assessing an application for an authorisation.

Exempt Burning and Activity

The Policy does not apply:

  • to burning undertaken under the requirements of theFire and Emergency Services Act 2005, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, Wilderness Protection Act 1992, Crown Land Management Act 2009, Forestry Act 1950 or Native Vegetation Act 1991; or
  • for a two year period, the undertaking of a prescribed activity of environmental significance in accordance with an environmental authorisation.

What you should do

So before you ‘throw another log on the fire’, consider how much smoke is being emitted from your heating and whether your activities mean that you need a burning permit or environmental authorisation. This is particularly important because a breach of the Policy will also, from 1 July 2017 be a breach of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.

If you need assistance with obtaining a permit or an environmental authorisation please contact one of our team.

Make an Enquiry

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