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Fire Risk Nuisance Abatement – Vegetation Management

Council's officers assess residential areas during late spring and summer each year to ensure known fire risks are managed to minimise the risk to nearby properties. This includes instances where Council are alerted of perceived fire risks by the public or which are reported by the Tasmania Fire Service.  If a fire risk nuisance is determined to exist then an abatement notice is issued under the Local Government Act 1993.  Failure to comply with this notice may result in Council taking action to ensure that the property is made safe.


Why are Council involved?

The Local Government Act 1993 provides for Councils to abate public nuisances, including the risk of fire.  If an inspection shows there is, or is likely to be, a direct fire risk on private property that presents an immediate risk to life or property on adjoining land then the Local Government Act 1993, assigns councils with the responsibility to clear a hazard at the owner's expense if the owner does not do so inside a specified time.

It's my property, why can't I decide what is a fire risk and what isn't?

Property owners may determine for themselves how to manage their properties up to the point where it becomes a clear risk to their neighbours or the public in general.  It is recognised that there is no perfect system for determining the exact point of if and when a fire risk is present.  Council operates under the guidance of Tasmanian Fire Service, and needs to consider the broader fire risks in an area, not just limited to an individual property when taking into account whether or not the property constitutes a fire risk.

What happens?

If after assessment of the property, a fire risk is determined, an Abatement Notice is sent by registered mail to the property owner.  Property owners are encouraged to take immediate steps to abate the fire risk, and communicate with Council about what they are doing.  If a notice is not complied with or the owner of land not able to be found, then Council is then compelled to clear the fire risk on the owner's behalf.  Where this occurs the property owner will be billed for this work.

I received a Notice - where do I go for advice?

Contact Council 6452 4800.

Can you recommend anyone to do the work for me?

Council does not provide recommendations of suitable private contractors. Gardening and slashing and agricultural contractors are likely to have the equipment needed for the job.

I'm not going to be able clear vegetation in time - what do I do?

You will need to contact Council before the deadline. Only in extreme circumstances will an extension be considered. All requests for extensions must be made in writing to the General Manager at the Circular Head Council, PO Box 348, Smithton 7330.

I think there's overgrown vegetation on my neighbours block?

It is always best to try and resolve these concerns with your neighbour first.  If this is not working, then you may contact the Council.  Properties reported in this way will be added to inspection lists.  Following an inspection it will be determined if the fire risk is such that an abatement notice is required.  You will be advised if no action is required.  If action is required it may take some time to progress from the notice the works being done to reduce vegetation.

What is it going to cost me if the Council clears the hazard on my property?

The costs vary depending on the size and type of hazard, the time required to clear the hazard and the equipment required.

I worked to clear the vegetation, and Council is still not satisfied, why?

The Abatement Notice must be complied with in in full to provide fire protection. It is also necessary to continue to control the vegetation throughout the bushfire season, so work done in late spring, may be required to be done again at intervals through until April.

Can I burn off garden waste in my backyard to help reduce the hazard?

Smoke from burning off in built-up areas has long been recognised as a public nuisance, particularly for sufferers of illness such as Asthma.  Backyard burning is controlled by the state-wide Environment Management and Control (Distributed Atmospheric Emissions) Regulations 2007.  These regulations provide that vegetation may be burnt to reduce a fire hazard, but this still must be done in a reasonable manner so as not to cause a smoke nuisance to your neighbour.  You also need to check with the Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) as to whether a fire permit is required, you should also follow any (TFS) guidelines to ensure that you are doing so in a way that is not going to create a fire risk in itself.  The following guidelines are available - Planned Burning Manual for Private Land or Planned Burning for Farmers and Landholders or Machinery Operating Guidelines.  For all these reasons it is recommended that in residential areas it is recommended that vegetation be removed rather than burnt.  White Hills Transfer Station accepts green waste.

Useful Links

The following sites may provide useful information before and during the fire season. The Tasmania Fire Service website provides information about the fire danger, fire restrictions and total fire ban days.

Tasmania Fire Service

Bureau of Meteorology