Air pollution (dust, light, odour, smoke)

Air pollution nuisances (offensive smells, dust, light and smoke) that we have the authority to respond to:

  • Dust occurring from the vacant land in preparation for subdivision or on residential land and some commercial land
  • Light dust occurring on residential land and some commercial land
  • Odour from spear pump, council sewage treatment plant, septic tank, dewatering or general issues (e.g. fertiliser, pesticides, waste, builders toilet)
  • Smoke from backyard burning or chimney smoke operating on residential land and some commercial land
  • Spray drift occurring on residential and some commercial land.

Further information about dust, light, odour, smoke and spray pollution can be found at the air pollution topic in Toolbox.

Nuisances outside of our authority

Wood fire heaters are a major contributor to air pollution and the smoke emitted from these heaters can cause health problems in neighbours such as asthma attacks, bronchitis and burning eyes. Wood smoke contains numerous toxins which are harmful to anyone smelling the smoke and to the environment. 

Before choosing to install a wood fire heater, the associated health and environmental impacts should be considered seriously. There are numerous alternative home heating solutions which are more environmentally responsible and don't degrade air quality.

If you currently own or are installing a wood fire heater, it is your responsibility to operate and maintain the heater to prevent smoke from becoming a nuisance.

Alternative home heating solutions

There are numerous design ways to warm your house without using a heater. Think about installing insulation, sealing gaps (under doors, through floorboards etc.) using rooms in winter that receive sun during the day, closing off cold rooms at night if not in use, lay carpets or rugs to warm the floor surface, wear appropriate clothing and use flannel sheets and a thick comforter on beds.

If your house still needs a little more warmth there are copious options that can be investigated if you decide you need a heating solution for your home. Choosing whether you would like to heat your whole house (central heating) or only required rooms/spaces (space heating) will have a major impact on your choice of a heater.

Central heating options:

  • Ducted air
  • Hydronic system
  • In-slab floor heating

Space heating options:

  • Electric heater
  • Gas heater
  • Reverse cycle air conditioner

Before deciding on a specific heater consider:

  • Cost of operation
  • Maintenance to the heater to ensure consistent performance
  • Health impacts on you and your neighbours
  • Environmental impacts
  • Energy efficiency rating
  • Appropriate installation within the house (location is very important).

Reducing smoke from wood fire heaters

There are ways you can reduce smoke from wood fire heaters such as:

  • choosing dry firewood
  • choosing appropriate wood to burn – not chipboard, painted wood or treated timber
  • stacking the fire correctly – start with kindling and gradually add larger wood pieces
  • starting the fire going as quickly as possible
  • keeping the fire burning brightly – it should have red glowing embers and bright swirling flames
  • leaving air controls open at night – avoid shutting down the damper overnight
  • cleaning and maintaining your chimney and wood heater regularly – check the door for cracks, seals for deterioration, firebox for rust and lubricate the air-slide control.

Wood fire heater complaints

If you, or your family, are affected by smoke emissions from a wood fire heater you can lodge a complaint with Council. To do this, you will need to provide:

  • your contact details (these will be kept private)
  • the address of the smoke nuisance
  • time/s of the day the smoke nuisance occurs
  • duration of the smoke emissions.

Following your report, Council will send you a smoke nuisance diary log (see diary in Related documents). Please fill in the log and return it.

The alleged offender will be sent a letter advising that a complaint about an alleged smoke nuisance at their address has been made. The allows the owner of the wood fire heater a chance to attempt to reduce the smoke emissions.

Related information

Smoke emissions record diary

Toolbox - further information about air pollution and wood fire heaters

Australian Government Your Home - further information on heating and cooling solutions

We can investigate complaints concerning light nuisance from residential and commercial properties. Your neighbour may not be aware that lights on their property are causing a nuisance. The best way to resolve such an issue with a neighbour is to approach them with your concerns and try and work together to resolve the problem.

Light can cause a nuisance to neighbours and interfere with their normal daily activities. If severe enough, it can affect their health. Light can come from numerous sources including security lights, spotlights, and floodlights.

Ways to reduce light emissions

  • Turn off lights when not in use or required for security purposes. Consider sensor switches.
  • Locate lights as far as possible from neighbours and away from sensitive areas, such as bedroom windows.
  • Avoid placing the light near a reflective surface and use existing features to hide the light source from view.
  • Wherever possible, direct light downwards, to illuminate the target area. If there is no alternative to up-lighting, try shields and baffles to help keep spill light to a minimum.
  • Some equipment can minimise light spread near, or above, the horizontal.
  • Don’t over light. It can cause light pollution and waste energy.
  • Keep glare to a minimum. Ensure the main light beam is kept below 70 degrees from horizontal.

Lodging a complaint

When investigating a light complaint, we will consider:

  • the amount of light being emitted
  • the duration and rate of emission and the light's characteristics and qualities
  • the sensitivity of the environment and the impact that the light has had or may have
  • views of any other neighbours or complainants
  • other relevant criteria

For more information, you can visit the Toolbox website or contact us to inquire about lodging an environmental nuisance complaint.

Last Updated: Friday, 10 August 2018 12:47
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