Burning controls

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. 

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

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.

However, burning may be permitted in some circumstance with consideration of the following:

  • 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

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

Apply for approval to burn

Step 1.Gather documents

Provide a diagram (hand drawn or otherwise) identifying the following:

  • location of proposed burning, and
  • location of neighbouring properties, and
  • distance from all site boundaries.

Step 2.Apply to your fire service provider for permits

If you live in NSW Rural Fire Service (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 Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) district you are required to obtain a permit from FRNSW at all times of the year.

Step 3.Apply to Council

You must apply 14 days prior to the planned burn. You can apply using Council’s online form below.

Burning in residential area application form 

Step 4.Approval

Council will review the submission 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

If approved, Council will provide written confirmation to the applicant. 

Exemptions from Council approval

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