Common questions about backyard burning

Backyard burning generally refers to the burning of rubbish, leaf litter and other vegetation at a residential premises.

This page will help you identify when and where backyard burning can and cannot occur.

To report a fire emergency, call triple zero (000).

Why are there rules about backyard burning?

Burning wood and rubbish in open fires and incinerators can cause smoke, which is a major cause of air pollution. There are rules in place because backyard burning can harm the environment and your health.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 (‘the Regulation’) provides regulatory measures for different air quality issues including residential emissions such as woodsmoke and backyard burning, and emissions associated with motor vehicles and industrial emissions. The regulation does not include hazard reduction burns.

How is backyard burning controlled?

Eurobodalla Shire Council's Clean Air Policy provides clear direction and a self-assessment checklist you can use to determine if dead and dry vegetation meets certain conditions that will allow you to proceed without formal approval.

Where not all conditions can be met, or the NSW Rural Fire Service requires that the landholder obtains approval from Council, formal approval can be applied for.

During fire danger periods (usually 1 October to 31 March each year) fires are not allowed unless a permit has been obtained from the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).

In some circumstances, the RFS will also require an Approval to Burn permit from Council. Please contact the Moruya RFS on 02 4474 2855 for more information.

What are the penalties for breaking these laws?

Council officers and the RFS can undertake action where it has been established that there has been a breach of the Regulation. This includes Penalty Infringement Notices (on-the-spot-fines).

Can I burn general rubbish?

No. Burning general rubbish and use of incinerators is not permitted on residential properties. Only rural properties that do not have access to a domestic waste collection service are allowed to burn rubbish.

Unless approved by the Environmental Protection Authority, the Regulation prohibits the burning of:

  • tyres
  • coated wire
  • paint containers and residues
  • solvent containers and residues
  • timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP).

If you have any of these items and wish to dispose of them please contact Council’s Waste Services on 02 4474 1024.

I live in a residential area, can I burn in my yard?

Open burning of dead and dry vegetation in residential areas is not permitted, including in incinerators and bonfires. Property owners are encouraged to recycle or re-use vegetation by methods such as mulching, composting, or as fuel for domestic heating.

Property owners can request additional organics (green lid) bins for a fee by contacting Council’s Waste Services on 02 4474 1024.

The Regulation does allow for some exemptions for small fires - including for cooking or barbequing - and for recreational purposes, such as camping, scouting, and picnicking. This covers items such as fire-pits, braziers, pizza ovens and barbeques.

When operating such equipment, you should ensure that:

  • a responsible adult is in direct supervision at all times
  • a method of extinguishment is immediately available
  • the fire does not cause a hazard or nuisance.

What if I think the property is a fire risk?

If you are concerned that the condition of the vegetation on a property poses a fire hazard, please contact the Rural Fire Service: