Good air quality is important for the health and wellbeing of our community and visitors to Eurobodalla. We all play a role in improving the quality of air we breathe and reducing our exposure to air pollution.
Pollutants released into the atmosphere and indoor environments affect our air quality. These pollutants can include:
- motor vehicle emissions
- burning of vegetation and rubbish in open fires
- smoke from wood fire heaters
- natural events such as bush fire and dust storms.
Air pollution can affect people in different ways. The pollution effects you experience depend on your health, exposure to pollutants, and levels of pollution.
Most common causes of air pollution
Smoke from solid fuel heaters is one of the most common causes of air pollution in Eurobodalla.
Solid fuel burning in the home provides an effective economical method of heating. Solid fuel heating devices also have the potential to create significant problems. These problems include environmental pollution, fire hazards, and nuisance to adjoining properties.
Pollutants in wood smoke include:
- noxious gases such as carbon monoxide
- organic compounds, including air toxins
- fine particles: these form when unburnt gases cool as they travel up the chimney. In the air, you can see this as white smoke.
Causes of excessive wood smoke
- Trying to burn a single large log.
- Using wood that is too wet.
- Too much firewood in the heater.
- Not using enough kindling.
- Turning the air control to slow burn too soon after light-up or refuelling.
- Adding firewood without opening the air control.
- An incorrectly placed log blocks the air supply to the base of the fire.
The installer should follow the relevant Australian Standards and the National Code of Australia during installation. You can check whether your heater complies with the Standards on NSW EPA's website.
Apply for approval to install a solid fuel heater
- Find out about the application process for a solid fuel heater
- Complete an application to install your heater on the NSW Planning Portal
Common installation and maintenance issues that cause excessive smoke
- Creosote clogs the heater flue and requires sweeping. The effects of a clogged flue are:
- the heater is difficult to start
- smoke enters the room when the heater door is opened.
- The flue length is too short for an adequate 'draw'.
- Poor location of heater and/or flue.
- DIY repairs such as those that leave the heater with missing parts, or the baffle plate is incorrectly installed.
Tips for better wood heater operation
- Always burn small logs of aged, dry hardwood.
- Store firewood undercover in a dry ventilated area.
- Never burn rubbish, driftwood, or treated/painted wood.
- Stack wood loosely in the firebox so air can circulate.
- When lighting a cold heater use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
- Turn off the warm air circulation fan when lighting up or refuelling.
- Keep the flame lively and bright - your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Completely open the air controls for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading.
- Don't let your heater smoulder overnight.
- Check your chimney often.
- Clean the chimney every year to prevent creosote build-up.
Backyard burning refers to the burning of rubbish, leaf litter, and other vegetation at a residential premises.
Backyard burning contributes to air pollution and can cause respiratory problems. Smoke can also impact your neighbours, especially in urban areas. There are other ways you can dispose of your green waste. These include:
- dispose of the green waste in your green-lid organics bin collected each fortnight
- use dry logs for heating
- mulching or composting
- taking your green waste to one of our waste management facilities for mulching.
The Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022 controls the practice of burning in the open.
Apply for approval to burn
You will need to apply for formal approval from Council when:
- you can't meet all conditions of the self-assessment checklist in our Clean Air Policy:
- In this situation, you can apply to Council for a merit-based assessment, or
- NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) requires that the landholder get Council approval. Please contact Moruya RFS on 02 4474 2855 for more information.
During fire danger periods (usually 1 October to 31 March each year) fires are not allowed unless you also get a Fire Permit from RFS. You may also need a permit from RFS all year round, depending on the type of fire. For example, a Fire Permit is required at all times if a fire is likely to be dangerous to a building.
A smoky vehicle is any motor vehicle that emits visible smoke continuously for over ten seconds. In most cases, drivers of smoky vehicles are not aware their vehicle is pouring out excessive smoke.
Smoky vehicles are covered under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022.
You can report a smoky vehicle to help ensure the vehicle owner is aware there is a problem with their vehicle. EPA reports that most drivers who receive an advisory letter take steps to check and repair their vehicle.
Frequently asked questions: reporting a smoky vehicle
If you have any questions about smoky vehicles, please contact the Environment Line on:
What we're doing about air quality issues
Council is responsible for managing certain local air quality issues. We have the power to take action under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022. We share this responsibility with other government bodies but can only act on some air pollution issues.
We have a Clean Air Policy which aims to protect the environment, health, and amenity of the community and visitors to Eurobodalla. The policy also ensures compliance with the Regulation:
What you can do about air pollution issues
If you have a problem with air emissions, you should first attempt to discuss the issue with the person responsible for the nuisance. Try to agree on a definite timeframe to do something about the problem. If the situation hasn't changed after that time, you may need to contact the appropriate authority to report the issue:
- NSW EPA: Reducing wood smoke emissions
- NSW EPA: Local government air quality toolkit
- NSW EPA: Air
- NSW EPA: About air pollution
- Eurobodalla Council: Common questions about backyard burning
If you need more information about air quality, please contact our Public and Environmental Health Team:
- T: 02 4474 1310
- E: Council's Public and Environmental Health Team