Council’s Environmental & Community Services Department investigates environmental health complaints including incidents of pollution in an effort to prevent and minimize pollutants and hazardous materials from entering our environment.  Pollution matters will usually fall within one of four main types of pollution these being air, noise, land and water.

In most cases, concern about pollutants should be referred to the source or person causing the problem.  If the issue cannot be resolved, contact Upper Hunter Shire Council to report incidents or visit the Environment Protection Authority website for further information.


During winter, smoke from domestic woodheaters can have a significant impact on local air quality.  Pollutants in the smoke may include gasses such as carbon monoxide, organic compounds, including air toxins and fine particles. 

When investigating complaints about smoke, ash and fumes Council considers:

  • the amount of smoke being emitted
  • how long the smoke is emitted for, and the smoke’s characteristics and qualities
  • the sensitivity of the environment into which the smoke if being emitted and the impact that it has had or may have
  • the views of other neighbours or complaints.

Some ways to reduce woodsmoke include:

  • always burn small logs of aged, dry hardwood – unseasoned wood has more moisture and is more likely to smoke;
  • store firewood under cover in a dry ventilated area; freshly cut wood needs to be stored for eight to 12 months;
  • never burn rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood. These pollute the air and can be poisonous;
  • when lighting a cold heater use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly;
  • stack wood loosely in the firebox so air can circulate – don't cram the firebox full;
  • turn off the warm air circulation fan when lighting up and when refuelling;
  • keep the flame lively and bright; your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading;
  • don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame;
  • check your chimney regularly – if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire;
  • clean the chimney every year, to prevent creosote build-up.