Open burning

Not all burning is permitted and varying requirements apply where it is. See below for information on the types of burning permitted and their requirements. 

Recreational and cooking fires

Recreational and cooking fires include small cooking fires or camp fires, hangis, wood fired BBQs and pizza ovens. They are NOT bonfires. No notification is required BUT they are prohibited on days of a Total Fire Ban. 

You can have a fire for recreational or cooking purposes provided that:

  • If the fire is on public land, it is in a permanently constructed fireplace
  • If the fire is on private land, it is contained in a properly constructed BBQ, fireplace, pit, drum or brazier
  • It is surrounded by ground that is cleared of all combustible materials for a distance of two (2) metres all around
  • It is not lit on a declared Total Fire Ban day and that you check the expected weather conditions
  • It is completely extinguished before leaving
  • Only dry seasoned wood, liquid petroleum gas, natural gas or proprietary barbeque fuel (including a small quantity of fire starter) is used. This does not include treated timber pallets.
  • It is free of toxic materials, such as rubber tyres, plastics and paint

It is also advisable that you let your neighbours know prior to lighting.

Open Pile Burning - Dead and dry vegetative material

Pile burns are the burning of piles of leaves and sticks that have accumulated on your property. 

Not every landowner/manager is eligible to burn vegetation in the open, in order to conduct an open pile burn you must: 

1. Meet eligibility requirements of Council's Open Burning Policy

Properties eligible to undertake open pile burning must meet the following specific criteria: 

  • Minimum lot size of 4000m2; and
  • It is within a permissible land zoning as per the table below.
Permissable Zones
RU4 Primary Production 
RU2 Rural Landscape 
R5  Large Lot Residential 
SP3 Tourist 

You can check your land zone and property size using the NSW Planning Portal's Land Zoning Maps or Council's IntraMaps tool.

2. Meet the conditions of the fire permit issued by Fire and Rescue NSW or NSW Rural Fire Service

Urban areas: A Fire permit is required all year round from Fire and Rescue NSW. Contact the Station Commander at your closest Fire and Rescue NSW station.

All other land: The need for a permit varies, if you plan to burn during the Bush Fire Danger Period, you MUST obtain a Fire Permit to ensure that you can conduct the burn safely. Contact the Lower Hunter Fire Control for your closest permit Issuing Officer. 

Everyone: In addition to Fire Permit requirements, before burning, a minimum of 24 hours’ notice MUST be given to the NSW RFS or Fire and Rescue NSW. 

For NSW Rural Fire Service, contact the Lower Hunter District Office on 1800 890 533 or use the online burn notification tool

For Fire and Rescue NSW phone (02) 4015 4000


 3. And adhere to the following conditions
  • Notify the Relevant Fire Authority of your intention to burn at least 24 hours prior to the intended time of burning.
  • Only burn for the purpose of disposal of dead and dry vegetative material that cannot be feasibly reused or recycled (such as mulching or chipping).
  • Vegetative material must consist only of that which accumulates on the land during its normal use.
  • Only one pile of vegetation may be burnt on any parcel of land at any one time, with the maximum size of any such pile to be 2 metres long, 2 metres wide and 1.5 metre high.
  • All reasonable measures must be taken to provide 24 hours’ notice (verbal or written) to adjacent property owners.
  • All reasonable measures must be taken to avoid causing a nuisance to neighbours including considering wind direction, weather conditions and ensuring the material being burnt is not wet.
  • Open Burning must be undertaken in accordance with the NSW Rural Fire Service/Fire and Rescue NSW publications Standards for Pile Burning and Before you light that fire.
  • The land manager/owner provides consent for an authorised Council officer to enter the parcel of land prior to or during the Open Burning for the purpose of administering the Regulations.
  • You must not burn if a 'No Burn Notice' is issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) or a Total Fire Ban is issued by the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Self-assessment and Declaration tool 

In order to obtain a Fire Permit for open pile burning, your appropriate fire agency may require you to demonstrate that you meet the approval criteria for Council’s Open Burning Policy. 

To assist, Council has developed a voluntary online self-assessment and declaration tool which can be provided in support of your application for a fire permit.

Once completed your declaration will be automatically emailed to your nominated email address.

Note: Prior to completing this, you will need to know the land zoning and property size – see About an Approval to Burn section for online tools to determine this if you are unsure.

You can check your land zone and property size using the NSW Planning Portal's Land Zoning Maps or Council's IntraMaps tool.

Go to the Self-assessment and Declaration Tool.

Agricultural Burning – Notification required all year

Agricultural Burning is managed by NSW Rural Fire Service and they require notification all year round. 

Agricultural burning is for Primary Producers and farmers who make a profit or loss from agricultural land use. As part of agriculture operations, agricultural burning is the appropriate burning of stubble, orchard pruning’s, pasture improvement, diseased crops, and disposal of dead beasts, weeds or pest animal’s habitats.


Hazard Reduction – Notification required all year

Hazard Reduction Burning is protecting a property and assets from bush fires. Depending on your location, iis managed by the NSW Rural Fire Service or Fire and Rescue NSW.

A Hazard Reduction Certificate must be obtained before any clearing or burning. This is a requirement all year round. You can obtain a Hazard Reduction Certificate free of charge by contacting your local fire station.

  • If your property is in an urban area, contact Fire and Rescue NSW on (02) 4015 4000.
  • All other land owners should contact the NSW Rural Fire Service by calling (02) 4015 0000 during business hours.

The NSW Rural Fire Service can even assist land owners in their district to carry out hazard reduction burns on their land.

Hazard Reduction Certificates are not issued for existing piles of vegetation. Your Hazard Reduction Certificate will list the conditions that you will need to follow.