RURAL residents in the Orange area will be banned from burning piles of tree branches and garden trimmings in bonfires after a tightening of Rural Fire Service (RFS) regulations.
Clifton Grove resident Charles Everett and his fellow rural residents in Ammerdown, Lucknow and Spring Hill will now have to lug excess vegetation waste to the Ophir Road resource recovery centre if they can’t fit in their green waste bins.
Mr Everett fears the ban will mean residents will leave the waste in piles, creating a greater fire danger.
“A lot of the residents out there can’t drive so they can’t get a truck to the recovery centre,” he said.
“Burning off doesn’t cause a lot of danger.”
Mr Everett said residents had not been told why the rules had changed.
“We’re 10 kilometres out of town. We get more pollution from town and the bypass then we put in,” he said.
“Most people only burn once or twice a year and the kids love it.
“We’re all a little bit upset that we weren’t notified properly.”
RFS acting-zone manager Brett Bowden said until recently the RFS issued hazard reduction certificates (HRC) to allow residents to burn off outside of the bushfire danger period.
“We’re now informed we shouldn’t be doing that under the Rural Fire Service Act,” he said.
“HRCs are not for people to burn a pile of garden clippings, it’s for people to burn off larger tracts of native vegetation for fire mitigation purposes.”
Mr Bowden estimated five to 10 per cent of residents burnt off illegally without a HRC.
But Mr Everett said most people complied with the rules and asked the RFS for a permit before lighting bonfires.
Council spokesman Allan Reeder said burning off using incinerators or bonfires was not permitted in suburban areas of Orange without approval, but up until recently the agreement with the RFS had allowed residents in semi-rural areas around Orange to burn off tree trunks and other large-scale agricultural material.
Mr Reeder said residents can take green waste to the resource recovery centre free of charge.
Mr Bowden reminded residents all fires were banned from October 1 until March 31 during the bushfire season.