Pollution Control and Monitoring

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Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, Council's rangers can investigate and take action for littering, waste/rubbish dumping, pollution of air, land or water, noise pollution (or offensive noise). Rangers can issue clean-up notices and or prevention notices to polluters.

Air Pollution

Stay Warm Breathe Easy!

Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. In fact, during winter, wood heaters can produce up to seven times as much particle pollution as cars. Not only is a smoking fire wasting your money, but the air pollution it causes can also affect our health. That's why we need to change the way we use our heaters.

When used correctly, modern low emission wood heaters fuelled by sustainably managed fuel sources are very low emitters of particulates and other substances. It is in the interest of the community to help reduce the amount of emissions from wood heaters.

Health alert - burning of old rail sleepers

Residents are advised to avoid burning old railway sleepers as they may present a health risk. For more information view this fact sheet.

Free Materials

Please stop by Council at 256 Crawford Street to get your free copy of the Balancing Nature & Comfort Naturally dvd (approximately 20 minutes in length).  We also have many informative brochures available on how to save you money, time and energy when burning a wood heater.  

Breathe the Benefits (30 second video)

Stop by Council's Customer Service desk to pick up your free DVD and reading materials from the Australian Home Heating Association and the Firewood Association of Australia.

 

Why do wood heaters smoke

When wood is heated to a high enough temperature, it breaks down into a complex mixture of gases. These gases burn in the presences of oxygen to give off heat. If there is not enough oxygen, or not enough heat, the gases will only partially burn and the un-burnt gases will go up the chimney into the air outside.

Once outside, these gases cool down and condense into tiny droplets of oils and tars. These are known as particles. A single particle is far too small to see with the naked eye, but a lot of particles together are seen as woodsmoke. Particles cause many of the environmental and health problems associated with woodsmoke. They are a major source of air pollution in wintertime, especially where many people use wood heaters for home heating.


Why is woodsmoke a problem

Woodsmoke contains particles so small that, when inhaled, they can cross the lung lining and end up in the blood stream. Woodsmoke also contains other chemicals that can affect our health. The health problems associated with woodsmoke include asthma, chronic lung disease, heart problems and premature births and deaths. Some of the toxic chemicals in woodsmoke are known to cause cancer.

Woodsmoke in Australia is a problem in many towns and cities on very cold, still nights. The colder temperatures mean that more people leave their woodheaters burning overnight. To keep them burning the firebox is often loaded so full of wood the fire is starved of oxygen. This causes the woodheater to smoulder and produce a lot of smoke. On a still night the problem is made worse as the smoke hangs in the air at ground level without a breeze to blow it away. When this happens the air we breathe can become very polluted.


How can you make less smoke?

The hot embers of a wood fire are actually the last stage of the burning process before the fire goes out. They are made up of carbon, commonly referred to as 'charcoal', and almost half the heat that comes from a wood heater comes from these hot embers. The embers burn very cleanly and make hardly any smoke.

If you want to keep your woodheater going overnight, you will make much less smoke if you burn the gases off first, before turning the heater down to reduce the air supply. To do this easily you need to take some of the steps listed below.

Many people do not realise that smoke is wasted heat that costs money. If the gases from the fire go up the chimney instead of being burnt, there is less heat available to heat your house. You can minimise the amount of smoke from a woodheater if you:

  • burn only dry, seasoned, untreated wood;
  • use smaller logs instead of only one large log;
  • do not pack the fire box too full as this will starve the fire of oxygen and cause it to smoulder;
  • keep the fire burning brightly for the first 20 minutes after lighting and reloading – the faster you can get the fire going the les smoke there will be;
  • always have a visible flame if you plan to keep the fire going overnight.

If you are buying a new woodheater, make sure you buy one that conforms to the Australian Standard 'AS 4013'. Woodheaters are also rated for their efficiency so one that is 65% efficient will burn less wood for the same amount of heat than one that is only 60% efficient. Check the label. You will also be better off if you choose one that is the right size for your house. If you buy a heater that can produce more heat than your house needs, you will have to set it to burn slowly. A big heater burning slowly makes more smoke than a smaller heater burning more quickly.

Changes in technology and better woodheater design now mean that many heaters are rated to burn with much lower levels of emissions than required by the Australian Standard. Consider purchasing a woodheater with the lowest level of emissions possible.


Graffiti

Graffiti is a scourge which costs communities across Australia millions of dollars to remove every year. Queanbeyan, like all communities has to deal with its fair share of this problem and Council has in place a team which removes graffiti from public buildings such as amenities blocks in parks etc.

Council has increased its removal program as part of the implementation of its Malicious Damage Crime Prevention Plan. Council introduced a program to remove graffiti from public property within 24 hours of being notified. The quick removal of these tags ensures that the perpetrator’s message is not given an opportunity to be promoted and also that the area does not act like a billboard to attract other taggers.

Council advises people who see graffiti applied to public property such as amenity blocks in parks etc, to contact Council immediately so that it can arrange for its Graffiti Removal Team to remove it. This can be done by phoning Council on 6285 6000 or by filling in a feedback form online here.

In respect of graffiti on private property the Council advises property owners to remove the offending tags within 24 hours.

Queanbeyan - Palerang Regional Council advises the community to contact the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444 if property is the victim of graffiti vandalism. The Police will complete a Malicious Damage Report which will assist in tracking the offender down.


Noise

It is a fact of life that we all make noise - talking to others, playing music, entertaining, working around the house. What is enjoyable to one person may be noise to another, too much noise can reduce peoples quality of life.

Noisy neighbours

The best approach for dealing with noisy neighbours is to talk to them and work together on a solution to settle the problem. You may feel anxious about approaching your neighbour, but remember they are sometimes not aware they are disturbing you. Talking about noise early on can help make neighbours aware of the problem and be more considerate in the future.

Residential noise and the law

Living in community in NSW there are rules (time limits) about when we can operate certain equipment.

Time limits exist in an effort to prevent the annoyance that noise from certain activities may cause our neighbour. The limits are based on what would be considered unreasonable.

Whatever the time of day consideration of your neighbour can help prevent many noise problems and lead to better neighbour relations.

Noise Source - from a residential premises

When noise shouldn't be heard 

Power tools, compressors, swimming pool pumps and equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws and the like

Between 8 pm until 7am weekdays & Saturday

and

8pm until 8am Sundays and public holidays

Musical instruments and sound equipment such as radios, sound systems, and public address systems

10pm until 8am every day and 12 midnight until 8am on any Friday, Saturday or day immediately before a public holiday

Domestic air-conditioners

10pm until 7am weekdays and 10 pm until 8am weekends and public holidays

Motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving premises)

8pm until 7am on weekdays and 8pm until 8am weekends and public holidays

Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles

8pm until 7am on weekdays and 8am until 8pm on weekends and public holidays

If speaking to your neighbour is not successful and where noise is a recurrent problem, you could consider contacting a Community Justice Centre (CJC). These are government-funded but independent centres that specialise in settling differences between neighbours without getting into complicated legal processes.

Council's Environmental Health Officers are always willing to provide advice in regards to enquiries you may have regarding neighbourhood noise or if you are unable to resolve the matter by talking with your neighbour, a complaint can be made to Council. It is important to relay all details of your complaint, including action already taken and the offending property address.

Please call Council during business hours on 02 6285 6268. Alternatively you may contact Council by email or by mail at PO Box 90, Queanbeyan NSW 2620.


Commercial and Industrial Noise

Development Consent conditions generally restrict the operating noise level of equipment and plant on industrial and commercial premises.

Check the table below to see who to contact regarding noise in various sectors.

You can speak to an Environmental Health Officer at council if you have enquiries or complaints about commercial or industrial noise nuisances on 02 6285 6268 or alternatively you may contact Council by an online request.

Noise Source

Contact

Industrial/Commercial noise

Large industrial complexes

Environment Line: 131 500

Smaller factories and backyard workshops

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Commercial premises - ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Transport noise

Commercial airports and aircraft in flight

National Noise Inquiry Line: 1300 302 240

Noisy motor vehicles (including trail bikes) in a public place (such as roads, verges and car parks, or off road, including parks and reserves)

Environment Line: 131 500; or Police Assistance Line:131 444; Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Noisy motor vehicles (including trail bikes) on private property

Police Assistance Line: 131 444; Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Road traffic noise on local roads

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Road traffic noise on freeways, tollways and main roads

RTA: 1300 308 349

Rail Noise

Environment Line: 131 500

Recreational boating, jet skis

NSW Maritime: 131 256

Construction Noise

 

Road construction

Environment Line: 131 500; RTA: 1300 308 349; Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Building Construction

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Major public infrastructure

Environment Line: 131 500

Public sporting and entertainment venues

 

Sporting facilities (other than vessels)

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268

Concert facilities

Queanbeyan City Council: 6285 6268


Noise from Licensed Premises

Music and crowd noise from restaurants, hotels and clubs can sometimes reach levels that are considered offensive or a nuisance and affect the lifestyle of neighbours and residents.

The Police or the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) deal with 'noisy patrons' leaving licensed premises.

Council enforces regulations to protect the amenity of the community.

All Liquor Licensed premises are obliged to respond quickly and positively to resolve complaints received from neighbouring premises.

You can lodge a 'Disturbance Complaint' when licensed premises or the behaviour of patrons leaving the premises causes problems. OLGR can also deal with any music or patron noise complaints about licensed premises through a disturbance complaint. You can download a 'Disturbance Complaint' form from OLGR's web site which also contains information on how to lodge a complaint.