Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Minimising particulate pollution in regional areas

Programs and strategies

Various programs are underway to help minimise the emission of particles from the identified sources of particle pollution in regional NSW. Management strategies have also been developed. The programs and strategies include the following.

Bushfire and hazard reduction burning management strategies

NSW bushfire smoke management policy

The Bushfire Coordinating Committee has developed a bushfire smoke management policy. It guides NSW fire and land managers, both public and private, in how to balance their competing fire management and air quality management obligations and objectives. It provides management guidelines and operational techniques that help to minimise the adverse affects of bushfire smoke in smoke-sensitive areas and communities. Such areas include residential areas, schools, scenic areas, retirement villages and hospitals. These are identified in bushfire risk-management plans.

The bushfire environmental assessment code for NSW

The bushfire environmental assessment code is a streamlined environmental assessment process for hazard reduction burning. The code specifically addresses smoke management and is available across all land tenures.

OEH

As both a fire authority and a conservation agency, OEH is committed to delivering effective fire management programs to protect life and property and conserve biodiversity and cultural heritage. To achieve the agency’s fire management objectives, OEH has developed the fire management manual, a compendium of policy and procedural information, and a tool to strengthen coordination between OEH, other fire and land management authorities and the community. The manual acknowledges that smoke from bushfires and prescribed burns can impact significantly on communities and outlines the factors OEH will consider when planning hazard reduction burns to reduce smoke impacts.

Further information on OEH's approach can be found in Managing fire in NSW national parks.

Stubble management and conservation farming

The NSW Department of Primary Industries and the EH Graham Centre

The NSW Department of Primary Industries and the EH Graham Centre provide information on stubble management and other conservation farming approaches. Conservation farming offers a way to increase cropping intensity safely and profitability without excessive soil damage and hence the risk of erosion. Conservation farming is built around:

  • reducing cultivation to maintain soil structure and soil water storage
  • retaining stubble to reduce erosion and increase soil organic matter, and
  • reducing traffic across the paddock to avoid compaction.

Information available on conservation farming and stubble management includes:

Guides on managing soil health and fertility are also available.

NSW catchment management authorities

The NSW catchment management authorities (CMAs) are concerned with preserving soils and land as part of their response to key natural resource management issues facing catchments. Their work in this area includes groundcover initiatives − increasing groundcover all year-round decreases the potential for erosion.

Currently the Murrumbidgee CMA is supporting and funding a project investigating methods of cereal stubble management in the Harden area through its community partnerships program. The Harden Murrumburrah Stubble Management Project is sharing knowledge via Landcare and other partners to enhance groundcover, improve crop productivity and reduce air pollution through improved management techniques, on-farm demonstrations and specialist assistance.

Other CMAs have delivered incentives to landholders for machinery modifications.

Soil erosion

The Department of Primary Industries provides information about soil erosion and how landholders can prevent and repair soil erosion.

Wood smoke programs

EPA works in partnership with local councils to educate residents on ways to reduce pollution from wood heaters. This has included EPA training council officers in the skills to enforce legislation on excessively smoky chimneys, improve wood heater installation practices and undertake community education campaigns. EPA has also produced a wood smoke pollution resource kit to assist councils to develop and run local community education campaigns to reduce smoke emissions from wood heaters.

DustWatch stations

The Murrumbidgee CMA is working in partnership with OEH to extend its network of DustWatch stations. Currently the CMA has a DustWatch Station located at Hay. The network will be expanded with the establishment of new DustWatch stations at Griffith, Narrandera Airport and Coolamon.

OEH has established a DustTrak monitor at the air quality monitoring site at Wagga Wagga. The monitor will help to determine the sources of particle pollution in the area.

The Wagga Wagga pilot program

OEH and the EH Graham Centre (an alliance between Charles Sturt University and the NSW Department of Primary Industries) are working together with local government and local communities to establish why seasonally high levels of air pollution have been recorded at Wagga Wagga and to develop and deliver coordinated actions addressing the multiple particle sources.

More information

Page last updated: 24 February 2015