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Wood Smoke

As wood heater operation and burning of dry vegetation becomes more common through the winter months, it is imperative to be mindful of neighbours and the impacts of wood smoke in residential areas. The fine components of wood smoke when inhaled can cause heart and respiratory issues, and can have greater health implications for children and the elderly. 

Backyard Burning

Although burning off is only permitted on blocks of 2000 square metres or more, land owners should be mindful of the potential backyard burning (and wood heaters) have in areas where block sizes are larger but still in close proximity to neighbouring residences.

Before you burn, consider alternative options for reducing waste such as tip runs, wood chipping and mulching. Should you burn, considering wind direction, proximity to neighbours and the types of materials to be burnt can significantly reduce wood smoke nuisances in your area. Also be mindful that the burning off of treated materials, green waste, rubber or other toxic waste producing substances are not permitted and Council officers are obliged to enforce regulations regarding incorrect burning. Fines may apply.

Communicate your intentions to neighbouring properties when preparing to burn. Blackstone Heights and other areas of Meander Valley are unique as they feature geography that create ‘sheds’ or blankets that prevent smoke from leaving quickly. Be considerate of this, what you are burning and where your neighbours are if choosing to burn.

Wood Heater Operation

Similar regulations relate to the operation of wood heaters. Regular monitoring and cleaning of wood heater flue/chimneys greatly reduces the rate and intensity of wood smoke.

Smoke from a poorly operated wood heater can be reduced by as much as 80 percent by following a few simple steps. These include:

  • Checking heaters comply with relevant Australian Standards
  • Only using well seasoned, dry fire wood
  • Always burn with a bright flame
  • Burn the fire on high for 20 minutes after adding wood
  • Always keep the air vents open enough to keep some kind of flame
  • Don’t shut your fire right down when you go to bed
  • Never let the fire smoulder
  Photo by John Innis, 2013
 

The Director of Public Health and the Environment Protection Authority are also working together to help protect Tasmanians from the harmful impact of wood smoke, and to monitor and regulate air quality. A new early warning system has been introduced to alert Tasmanians to short elevations of smoke levels. More information can be found at: www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/alerts/air

Please feel free to contact Council’s Environmental Health Officers on 6393 5300 with any questions.

The information sheets below provide step-by step advice on effectively reducing smoke from your woodheater.

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