Tighter rules for open air burning to come into force in September

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The City of Greater Bendigo is urging residents to check before lighting a fire as tighter restrictions on open air burning will come into force in Greater Bendigo on September 1, 2018 to protect the health and safety of the community.

City of Greater Bendigo Acting Safe and Healthy Environments Manager Jason Barnes said burning off by residents made up a high percentage of calls to the City from the community, with concerns around smoke, and also impacted on CFA volunteers due to the large number of 000 call outs they create.

“While most burning off is well intentioned, open air burning does have the potential to be a health risk to the community and the environment and can lead to the spread of fire and so it’s always a good idea to check with the City before burning off,” Mr Barnes said.

“The City’s Local Laws already requires residents to obtain a free permit to light a fire on land that is less than a hectare in size.

“A change to the City’s local law on land one hectare or over will now require a free permit if the fire exceeds 4m long x 4m wide x 3m high.  This excludes fires for farming and primary production.

“This should not impact most residents who burn off fallen timber to reduce fuel and fire risk on their property as the size of the fire allowed without a permit is still quite large in size.

“Most people do not light a fire larger than this, however when it does occur we know there is a greater risk of the fire creating excessive smoke and getting out of control.

“We also know that stacks of this size or more are likely to contain materials that are illegal to burn such as treated timbers, plastics and old furniture.

“On land of all sizes only dry wood can be burned, smoke must not impact neighbours, fires must be continuously supervised and neighbours and VicFire notified in advance.

“The City encourages people to use fire as a last resort as there are other more environmentally friendly methods such as using green bins, free green waste disposal offered by the City, recycling fallen wood for fire-wood or woodchip and the mulching of smaller material such as leaves.

“If residents or landholders are in a situation where they believe they have no other alternative than to burn off a pile that is greater in size than 4m long x 4m wide x 3m high they must apply to the City for a free permit.

“By doing this the City’s Local Laws Officers will conduct a risk assessment which will take into account issues such as the size of the land, the ability of the landowner to remove the vegetation via more appropriate methods, proximity to other landowners and the risk of smoke nuisance.  The potential for fire to spread and fire suppression equipment at the location will also be taken into account.”

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