Open burning

Find out what you may need to do when open burning, as certain conditions or approvals may apply.

Burning in the open in NSW is regulated by the Protection of the Environment (Clean Air) Regulation 2010

Wood smoke from open burning can cause a nuisance for nearby properties. Please consider weather conditions and possible impacts before lighting any fire.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can I burn off vegetation or garbage in my own backyard?

No, you cannot burn vegetation or anything else in the open or in an incinerator, unless that incinerator is operated in accordance with the NSW EPA Cl 12 POEO Clean Air Regulation requirements.

There are some exceptions for cooking, barbecuing and recreational fires subject to conditions, such as camping, scouting or other outdoor activities.

Can I still have an open fire for recreational purposes?

Yes, with some restrictions.

You can cook or barbecue in the open, you can also light, maintain or use a fire for recreational purposes such as camping, picnicking, scouting or other similar outdoor activities, so long as only dry seasoned wood, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas or proprietary barbecue fuel (including a small quantity of fire starter) is used subject to compliance with any NSW Fire restrictions, such as total fire bans.

What if I live in a semi-rural area, then can I burn off vegetation and garbage?

Yes, but within Maitland the burning of dead and dry vegetation is only permitted on parcels of land on which the vegetation grew, has a footprint of not less than 4,000 square metres and is zoned:

  • RU1 Primary Production
  • RU2 Rural Landscape
  • R5 Large Lot Residential, under the Maitland Local Environmental Plan 2011.

Note, the burning of the following articles are prohibited articles and should not be burnt under any circumstances:

  • Tyres
  • Coated wire
  • Paint containers and residues
  • Solvent containers and residues
  • Timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP).
Are there any other exceptions?

Yes, the POEO Clean Air Regulation makes provision for controlled burning in the following circumstances:

  • As part of an agricultural operation (eg. burning stubble, orchard prunings, diseased crops, weeds or pest animal habitats, pasture for regenerative purposes or any other legitimate agricultural activity)
  • To conduct training in methods of fire fighting by an authorised person
  • In a licenced incinerator that meets the requirements of the NSW Environment Protection Authority
  • To carry out emergency bush fire hazard reduction work under the Rural Fires Act 1997
  • To burn an animal that has or is suspected to have died of a disease proclaimed under the Stock Diseases Act 1923 or the Exotic Diseases of Animals Act 1991. You need to refer to the regulation for the controls and specific circumstances of when these exceptions apply.
Do I need to notify anyone?

Land managers/owners must contact the Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service by phoning 02 4015 0000, at least 24 hours prior to lighting any open fire. If planning to burn on a weekend please phone between 9.00am and 4:30pm on the Friday prior to advise of lighting. 

Additionally, Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) FRNSW issue Fire Permits all year round for any fire lit within FRNSW Fire District.

  • Under Section 88 of the Rural Fires Act 1997, a person who lights a fire on land within a fire district in circumstances in which would be likely to be dangerous to any building, is guilty of an offence unless the person is authorised to do so- this is achieved by the applicant contacting their local FRNSW Station to apply for a fire permit.
  • In addition to this, the person must comply with any conditions set out in the FRNSW fire permit including giving notice in accordance with Section 86 of the Act
  • It should be noted that this year-round issuing requirement differs to Rural Fire Service NSW (RFS) where, within their jurisdiction, RFS only require fire permits to be issued to private land owners seeking to light fires during the area’s declared Bushfire Danger Period
  • RFS cannot issue fire permits for fires lit within FRNSW Fire District and conversely, FRNSW cannot issues Fire Permits for fires located within RFS jurisdiction
Who can I call if I'm not sure?

Lower Hunter Rural Fire Service on 02 4015 0000.

How can I burn safely?

To burn anything in the open or in an incinerator you must do so by such practicable means as are necessary to prevent or minimise air pollution, including:

  • Taking into account the potential for smoke impacting on any person having regard to:
    • Wind direction
    • Weather conditions
    • The length of time that the material being burnt is likely to burn.
  • Taking reasonable measures to ensure the material being burnt is not wet
  • Burning only material that is suitable for disposal by burning, having regard to possible effects on human health and the environment.
Council's Control of Burning Policy

Approval to burn under the Control of Burning Policy is intended for the purpose of waste disposal of larger than average quantities of vegetative debris and is subject to compliance with the specific criteria outlined in the policy.

Please note the Control of Burning Policy does not override the exceptions provided in the POEO Clean Air Regulation including those for agricultural purposes and emergency bushfire hazard reduction.

Tree waste can be disposed of at the Mt Vincent Road Waste Management Centre.