Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Reducing open burning emissions

Burning wood and rubbish in open fires and incinerators can cause smoke, which is a major cause of air pollution. It can harm the environment and your health. Many Councils (including the majority of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong) do not permit the burning of vegetation or waste (whether in your backyard or elsewhere). To find out whether burning in the open is allowed in your area, please contact your local council. There are limited situations when fires can be lit. These are:

  • for hazard reduction work under the Rural Fires Act 1997
  • for recreational purposes such as barbecues or camping
  • for agricultural purposes (other than construction)
  • for fire fighting training provided by an official fire control officer
  • if you have approval from the EPA

If you are permitted to burn:

  • you still have an obligation to prevent or minimise air pollution
  • you are not allowed to burn specified articles, including tyres, coated wire, paint and solvent containers and certain treated timbers (for more information, ask your council)

No-burn Notices or Total Fire Bans override any permits obtained. 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. For more information call EPA's Environment Line on 131 555.

Page last updated: 18 June 2013