Air Quality

​Wood Smoke Pollution

Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. Not only is a smoking fire wasting your money, but the air pollution it causes can also affect our health.

Wood smoke contains a number of noxious gases (including carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and a range of organic compounds, some of which are toxic or carcinogenic) and fine particles, which go deep into the lungs.

If you can see or smell smoke from your wood heater then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbours.

Lithgow City Council residents are being asked to help improve winter air quality by checking they are using wood heaters correctly.

Lithgow City Council works in partnership with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to reduce the wood and coal smoke within the Lithgow Local Government Area. Some simple steps you can do to reduce wood smoke pollution are:

  1. Don’t let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  2. Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
  3. Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  4. Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
  5. When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  6. Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don’t cram the firebox full.
  7. Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
  8. Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  9. Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
  10. If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).

It is the responsibility of all wood heater owners to follow these easy steps and minimise the harmful effects of smoke pollution on their neighbours and the environment. Lithgow City Council can issue smoke abatement notices under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. A smoke abatement notice requires that a householder ensure that excessive smoke is not emitted from the chimney. The notice gives 21 days for any necessary improvements, maintenance or repairs to be carried out.

For further information on wood or coal smoke, or to report a smoky chimney, please contact Council’s Environment Department on 02 6354 9999 or visit the link below.

NSW EPA Website –

Alternate Fuel Rebate Program

Lithgow City Council currently provides a rebate for those wishing to convert their existing coal burning appliances. This program aims to help you get the most out of your heating, while protecting the environment and your health. The program involves the following components:

  • Rebates
  • Community Education
  • Smoky Chimney Surveys
  • Smoke Abatement Notices

Cleaner Heating Cash Incentives 

Rebates are available to householders to replace your coal burning appliance. The incentives being offered include the following:

  • $1000 rebate ($1400 for pensioners)
  • $2000 for commercial premises

To be eligible for a rebate the property must be zoned residential R1-5 or RU5 with land area ≤2 hectares, and be within an urban area of the Lithgow Local Government Area.

Which Heating Systems Are Eligible?
The following replacement heating systems are eligible for the rebate:
  • Fixed electric heaters with thermostatic controls
  • Fixed flued gas heaters
  • Reverse-cycle air conditioners
  • Ducted central heating
7 Easy Steps for Obtaining the rebate

  1. Download a rebate application form from Council’s website or collect in person at Council’s Administration Centre.
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Contact Council’s Environmental Health Officers to arrange an inspection of your old heater (Council is required to take a photo of the existing heater in-situ).
  4. Replace the old heater with a new, cleaner alternative.
  5. Contact Council’s Environmental Health Officers to advise the new heater is installed, and the old heater has been disposed of (ensure you keep the receipt of disposal).
  6. Arrange a time for an Environmental Health Officer to attend your property and take a photo of the new heater installed.
  7. Download and complete a Refund by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form from Councils website.
  8. The rebate will then be processed and issued to you in due course.

For further information please contact Council’s Environment Department on 02 6354 9999.


Open Burning

You must only light a fire outside in certain situations. Check what fires are allowed in your area, and whether you need a permit to burn.

Smoke pollution can aggravate existing heart and lung problems like angina, emphysema and asthma. It can also cause

  • itchy or burning eyes and throat irritations
  • breathing difficulties and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis
  • headaches, tiredness or chest pain
  • decreased lung function in children.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2021 allows Councils to approve open air burning of material in certain instances and in certain areas. Lithgow City Council is listed in Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2021 Part 2: Areas in which burning of vegetation is prohibited except with approval; and, Part 3: Areas in which all burning (other than vegetation) is prohibited except with approval or in relation to certain domestic waste.

Burning Activities For Which Approval IS Required

The following information outlines the type of burning for which this policy applies. Other burning activities may require a separate approval from the Rural Fire Service.

a)  General burning for which Council approval is required: 
The open burning of dry and dead vegetation that is not easily disposed of at Council Waste Management Facilities. This applies to any vegetation matter. A Permit to Burn must be obtained from the Rural Fire Service during the Bush Fire Danger Period (usually 1 Oct. to 31 March)

b)  Notification to the Rural Fire Service is required:
Before burning for any purpose (except for a fire for cooking or recreational purposes), notice must be provided to all adjoining landowners/occupiers as well as the Rural Fire Service 24 hours prior to burning.

c) Burning which is classed as prohibited.
The burning of domestic, business, building, industrial and hazardous waste is classed as a prohibited activity and may have adverse impact upon the community and the environment. This type of material is not to be burnt unless through a licensed incinerator and must be disposed of through the appropriate waste facility.

Burning Activity Where an Approval From Lithgow City Council IS NOT Required 

Burning is allowed without the need for approval on a property greater than 4,000 m² (1 acre) for dead and dry vegetation in the cause of carrying out agricultural operations on which the vegetation has grown; within the following areas identified under the Lithgow Local Environmental Plan 2014

  • RU1 – Primary Production
  • RU2 – Rural Landscape
  • RU5 – Village
  • R5 – Rural Residential

Notice must be provided to Rural Fire Service (RFS), all adjoining landholders/occupiers and must be in accordance with the RFS Standards for Pile Burning. Open burning is permitted only during the Approved Open Burning Period (generally April-September) and only under the following circumstances: 

  1. A fire is conducted as part of a routine agricultural management activity (eg: burning stubble, orchard pruning’s, diseased crops, weeds or pest animal habitats, pasture for regenerative purposes or any other legitimate agricultural activity). See Glossary for a full definition of this activity;
  2. The disposal of certain types of dry and dead vegetation;
  3. An easily controlled fire for cooking or barbequing, with the fire area covering 1m x 1m or less;
  4. To conduct an easily controlled fire for recreational purposes (eg: camping, scouting, and picnicking), excluding bonfires, with the fire area covering 1m x 1m or less;
  5. To conduct training in methods of fire fighting by an authorised person;
  6. In a licensed incinerator meeting the requirements of the Environment Protection Authority;
  7. To carry out bush fire hazard reduction work under and in accordance with the Rural Fires Act 1997, however it should be noted that the hazard reduction certificate is not providing permission to burn; it may only state that burning can be conducted as part of this activity;

Note: You may need an environmental approval if:

  • You are modifying native vegetation,
  • The activity could threaten endangered species and or result in air or water pollution and or soil erosion,
  1. To destroy, by burning, of any prohibited plant or drug under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985;
  2. To burn an animal that has died or is suspected to have died of a disease proclaimed under the Stock Diseases Act 1923 or the Exotic Diseases of Animals Act 1991.

Note:A permit may be available for other zones subject to approval from the Rural Fire Service and Lithgow City Council. During the Fire Danger Period on days of Total Fire Ban and/or Extreme Fire Danger all burning activities are suspended.

Note: Before burning for any purpose (except for a fire for cooking or recreational purposes), notice must be provided to all adjoining landowners/occupiers as well as the Rural Fire Service 24 hours prior to burning.

Restricted Materials

The following materials must not be burnt at any time within the Lithgow City Council area and must be disposed of or recycled in the appropriate manner at a licensed waste facility:

  • General or domestic waste
  • Tyres
  • Coated wires
  • Paint containers and residues
  • Solvent containers and residues
  • Timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP)
  • Any material that may cause an explosion

For further information on open burning please contact Council’s Environment Department on 02 6354 9999.


Sourcing Firewood

If buying wood to use immediately, ask your wood seller to verify the wood has been aged.

If collecting wood yourself, please be aware of where you take it from. Firewood harvesting is destroying some of our most threatened vegetation and animal habitats.

People found to be collecting wood or other materials or cutting down or damaging trees within a Council road reserve may be issued with an on-the-spot fine of $220 for every offence, or a maximum penalty of $2,200 may be imposed by a Court.