Looking to light a bonfire or burn your leaves this winter? Think again!

Released 07/06/2019

Canberrans are being reminded to think again when it comes to lighting backyard bonfires or burning their leaves this winter – not only to support Canberra’s air quality but also to avoid a fine.

Narelle Sargent, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said that while Canberra’s air quality was generally good, the city did struggle when it came to pollution from woodsmoke.

This was often exacerbated in winter months not only from wood heaters but the burning of garden materials.

“Fine particle pollution from woodsmoke can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis,” Mrs Sargent said.

“While Canberra’s air quality is much better than that of other cities, Canberrans can play their part in improving our air quality by mulching their leaves and placing garden waste in the green waste bins provided.

“They can also choose to take garden waste to recyclers at Corkhill’s Mugga Lane or Canberra Sand and Gravel at West Belconnen and Mitchell.”

Mrs Sargent said the burning of garden waste was illegal in the ACT and on the spot fines of $100 apply. There are also restrictions on holding bonfires on residential land.

“Bonfires on residential land are only permitted during the period commencing on the weekend before, and ending on the weekend following, the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday,” she said.

“Residents can legally hold a bonfire from Saturday 1 June to Saturday 15 June inclusive but must notify ACT Fire & Rescue and only burn well-seasoned and unpainted wood in their fires. Bonfires outside of this period are not permitted.”

Mrs Sargent said the EPA had recently conducted an audit of wood heater businesses and fire merchants to check that they were meeting their environmental obligations.  All were found to be compliant.

“Wood heater retailers must ensure that the heaters they are selling comply with Australian Standards,” Mrs Sargent said.

“Wood fire merchants must comply with environmental protection requirements that include supplying customers with seasoned wood and providing a pamphlet supplied by the EPA that sets out recommended wood burning practices.

“Canberrans with wood heaters can do their bit to improve our air quality by buying wood from a reputable firewood merchant, using only well seasoned wood and not letting fires smoulder overnight. By working together we can all reduce the impact of air pollution on our city.”

- Statement ends -

Section: Access Canberra | Media Releases

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