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New wood smoke regulations proposed

Tasmanians have been urged to operate their wood heaters sensibly and reduce the incidence of excessive wood smoke.

Proposed regulations on heaters and smoke are designed to assist the community to operate wood heaters correctly and with due regard for their neighbours.

The regulations are due to be implemented later next month and will help local government officers deal with excessively smoky wood heaters.

While most people operate their heaters responsibly, under current laws it is difficult to deal with those who persistently do not.

Under the new provisions council officers will be able to issue warnings and infringement notices.

On-the-spot fines will attract a penalty of . If the case goes to court, the maximum penalty for visible smoke emissions will be ,000. It is anticipated that court action would be taken only if all other approaches had consistently failed.

Under the proposed regulations smoke may be emitted for any length of time, all day and night, provided it is not visible 10 metres or more from the chimney.

The regulations will be breached if the smoke is visible 10 metres or more from the chimney for at least 30 seconds, as well as being generally visible for at least 10 minutes.

It is envisaged that education and warnings will be the first step in implementing the new regulations, with fines likely to be applied only where people persist in operating their wood heaters in a way that causes excessive smoke.

The Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy seeks to improve management of smoke from planned burning through establishing smoke management procedures and incorporating them into the Forest Practices Code, improving coordination of planned burning and investigating the most appropriate management system for complaints.

The Environment Division is working with the Forest Practices Advisory Council to ensure best practice in planned burning and prediction of where smoke will disperse.

For tips to reduce wood smoke and to operate wood heaters efficiently, go to http://www.environment.tas.gov.au/.