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Air Pollution

Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhausts, factories, dust, pollen, barbeques, wood heaters and bush fires.  

The Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO) legislates and provides a statutory framework to investigate and prevent air pollution in NSW.  

Air Pollution is defined under the POEO Act as the emission into the air of any air impurity. However, when stating this it is important to remember there are certain tolerances that need to be applied because it may not be possible to stop or prevent all emissions. What does this mean? It is impossible to stop impurities going into the atmosphere from activities and plant on commercial, agricultural and industrial premises, therefore the legislation sets standards to cap levels of emission. 

On a more local level, some level of pollution is permitted however it is limited and is still governed by the POEO Act. For instance, a wood fire is not able to be lit without producing smoke initially, but once the fire warms up, smoke should be minimal and not visible.


Air pollution in the local neighbourhood

For some air pollution incidents caused by a wood fire or cooking, talking to your neighbour before contacting Council is recommended. If this course of communication fails, then contacting the Community Justice Centre (CJC) can allow them the opportunity to mediate a safe and suitable solution for the benefit of all neighbours involved. 

The types of problems that Council can assist with include: 
  • Spray painting on residential and commercial premises
  • Smoke and nuisance burning on residential premises
  • Dust from building sites
Council will also investigate air pollution caused by:
  • Small or medium sized businesses
  • Smoke and odour from local industry 
  • Odours from a small business, restaurant or food outlet.
Request for Council to assist in air pollution matters incidents can be done Online or via the Customer Service Centre. When requesting for assistance, the following information will help officers to investigate the matter more effectively and efficiently:
  • The time/s and date/s of the air pollution incident
  • The duration of the air pollution incident
  • Details of the nature of the pollution
  • Details of any attempts made to resolve the matter privately or through CJC and
  • Your contact details

Air pollution from industrial sites

Air pollution from government owned land or licensed premises listed under the POEO Act or the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 can be reported to the NSW EPA on 131 555.

See our Local Air Pollution fact sheet for more information. 

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