Backyard Burning

Legislation has allowed Councils to control ‘backyard’ burning or burning ‘in the open’ throughout South Australia since 1984.

Burning in the open is a common practice to reduce the risk of bushfires, manage agricultural land and to dispose of agricultural and forestry wastes.  Open fires are also used to cook food, prepare beverages, for domestic heating and as part of recreational activities (ie campfires).

While activities such as burn offs for bushfire reduction are absolutely necessary, smoke from these activities can impact on human health and the environment, and can also cause nuisance.  Wood smoke from burning in the open is also a significant contributor to poor air quality in South Australia.

New provisions in the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (which came in to effect in July 2016) aim to minimise smoke impacts in populated areas by providing stronger controls on burning in built-up areas where people are more affected.


Burning Permit issued pursuant to Clause 6(3)(a)(ii) of the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016

This burning permit is issued by the District Council of Peterborough and authorises any person living in the defined townships of Peterborough, Yongala and Oodla Wirra, to carry on burning activities outside of the fire danger season as fixed under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2015 and subject to the following conditions:

NOTE: Should a desire exist for a fire outside of the below conditions, an individual permit is required and MUST be applied for from Council, in advance.


  1. Burns only to occur between 10am and 3pm daily, Monday – Saturday inclusive
  2. Neighbours who are likely to be affected are to be notified prior to light up, so evasive action can be taken to avoid smoke
  3. Sufficient water at hand to extinguish immediately should necessity arise
  4. The fire to be supervised by an adult at all times and completely extinguished before it is left
  5. If asked to extinguish the fire because someone is affected, you must comply
  6. Only dry timber or timber derivative may be burnt and an accelerant MUST NOT BE USED
  7. This permit does NOT authorise a person to burn on land if the person is not the owner of the land or does not have the consent of the owner or occupier of the land.


  1. This generic permit will remain in force for a period of 12 months or until the start date of the 2020/21 fire danger season, (whichever the sooner).
  2. This permit does not authorise the burning of any other substance other than dry timber or timber derivatives
  3. This permit does not authorise the burning of dis-used railway sleepers
  4. The fact that person has complied with the conditions of this permit does not;
    1. Relieve that person from liability or any loss, damage or harm caused by a fire lit under the authority of the permit; OR
    2. Prevent proceedings for enforcement of the general environmental duty under section 25 of the Environment Protection Act 1993, or for any offence under the Act, in relation to the burning activity, (clause 6(5) of the Environment Protection (Clean Air) Policy 2016

This permit is subject to any ban, prohibition, restriction or other requirement under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005, the Native Vegetation Act 1991 or a prescribed Act (clause 5(4) of the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016.

For general information and FAQs on burning in the open matter, please visit the EPA website

To make application for a permit which falls outside of the generic conditions as stated above, please contact Council on 08 8651 3566.  Conditions to be attached to an individual permit, issued due to the applicant’s requirements falling outside the generic conditions are:

  1. B,C,D,E and F as listed above are mandatory
  2. Any other conditions apply to individual fires are at the discretion of the Authorised Officer.
Peter McGuinness
Chief Executive Officer

NOTE:  It is important to ensure that the material being burnt is completely dry to ensure a quick, clean burn and thereby minimising the amount of smoke produced from the fire. The burning of damp, wet or green garden prunings or other material is not permitted and can attract an expiation notice.

If you live OUTSIDE the townships of Peterborough, Yongala and Oodla Wirra, but within the District Council area, you can burn to:

  • Use a fire for the preparation of food and beverages
  • Use a brazier, chiminea or fire pit for outdoor domestic heating
  • Campfires, scouting and outdoor activities
  • Burn agricultural or forestry waste (in accordance with CFS Code of Practice for Broad Acre Burning 2015)
  • Burn off for bushfire hazard reduction (in accordance with relevant CFS Code of Practice for Vegetation Pile Burning 2015)

Note: Does not apply to burning undertaken in accordance with Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.

When does the fire danger season begin?

The Peterborough District Council is located within the Flinders fire district. In most years, the fire danger season commences on November 1 and ends at midnight on April 15. However, extremely dry conditions can prompt the season to begin earlier or be extended under the direction of the Chief Officer of SA Country Fire Service. It is important to check with the CFS or Council regularly to verify the fire danger season dates.

Can I burn off during the fire danger season?

No. During the fire danger season, fires in the open are strictly regulated under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.  Burn-offs are not allowed without a permit. There are also special requirements for using angle grinders, welders, barbecues, chainsaws, brush cutters, mowers, slashers and campfires. Fines of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to two years can be issued for people lighting fires during the fire danger season. On-the-spot fines may also be issued.

CFS Information Hotline

Should you have queries regarding fire danger season dates or total fire ban information contact the CFS Bushfire information hotline on 1300 362 361 or the Peterborough District Council on 8651 3566.