Control of Burning

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Control of Burning



Burning of vegetation is only permitted in rural landscape (RU2) and large lot residential (R5) zones subject to requirements of the Rural Fires Act 1997 and Rural Fires Regulations 2013. All other zonings will require approval from Council.


​To burn vegetation you must ensure the burn is conducted in a safe manner that prevents or minimises air pollution and smoke impacts on neighbouring properties. 

You must ensure:

  • only green waste is burnt
  • the green waste is thoroughly dried and well stacked to promote rapid burning
  • the pile does not contain dirt, rubbish, plastics or any other waste
  • air pollution and smoke impacts are minimised by taking into account wind direction, weather conditions and the length of time the vegetation will burn
  • the fire is immediately extinguished or other effective steps are taken to reduce thick or excessive drifting smoke
  • you provide 24 hours' notice to your neighbours and register the burn with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) on 02 6653 1097 at least 1 hour before lighting
  • a fire permit has been obtained from the RFS during the Bush Fire Danger Period which typically occurs from September to March


Note: Burning of vegetation piles is for the purpose of hazard reduction for vegetation grown on that property. Bonfires for recreational purposes are not permitted. 


Burning is prohibited in the following zones without Council approval.

R1 General Residential Zone
R2Low Density Residential Zone
R3Medium Density Residential Zone
R4High Density Residential Zone
B1Neighbourhood Centre Zone
B2Local Centre Zone
B3Commerical Core Zone
B4Mixed Use Zone
B5Business Development Zone
B6Enterprise Corridor Zone
IN1General Industrial Zone
IN3Heavy Industrial Zone

Use Council's Online Mapping Tool to check land zonings.


To burn vegetation in a residential area you must:

  1. Apply to Council for approval through Council's application form (ensure the application is made 14 days prior to the planned date burning will commence).

  2. Pay the associated fee as specified in Council's fees and charges

  3. Apply for the relevant NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) or Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) permits:

    • If you live in RFS district, during Bush Fire Danger Period (generally from September to March) you are required to obtain a permit from the RFS.

    • If you live in FRNSW district you are required to obtain a permit from FRNSW at all times of the year.

Council officers will assess the application in accordance with the Protection of Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2002 (NSW), taking the following matters into consideration:

  • Impact on regional and local air quality and amenity

  • Feasibility of re-use, recycling or other alternative means of disposal

  • Any opinions of the public who are likely to be affected by the proposal

    Approvals for residential areas will generally not be permitted due to potential impacts to the amenity of adjoining properties, and the availability of other green waste disposable options.


​An approval to burn from Coffs Harbour City Council is not required for the following activities:

  • Lighting a fire for cooking or recreational purposes such as camping or picnicking
  • Burning of vegetation for carrying out agricultural operations
  • Lighting a fire for the purposes for instruction of methods of fire fighting
  • Bushfire hazard reduction work under the Rural Fires Act 1997 (NSW) (i.e. hazard reduction work with a hazard reduction certificate issued by the Rural Fire Service)

If you are lighting a fire in residential areas for cooking or recreational purposes, you must ensure smoke emissions are minimised and do not cause a nuisance to your neighbours.  

You can achieve this by: 

  • Keeping the fire small, typically less than 1m in diameter
  • Ensuring the fire is contained in an appropriate structure (e.g. barbeque)
  • Burning only dried and untreated firewood 
  • Limiting how often you burn and how long you burn for
  • Letting your neighbours know of your plans


Penalty Infringement Notices can be issued to individuals ($500) and/or corporations ($1000) who burn vegetation or burn in the open without approval.