Disputes also arise between neighbours over smoke from chimneys or incinerators, burning off in backyards, hot air from air conditioner exhausts, smells caused by animals and birds, chemical smells from factories and so on. Again it is best to try to solve such a dispute in a friendly manner, but if this does not help, a complaint can be made to the Environment Protection Authority, see Pollution and Waste.
Domestic incinerators are controlled under the Environment Protection (Burning) Policy 1994 that prohibits:
- burning of chemically treated wood
- open fires in streets, roads or laneways
- the use of domestic incinerators in most council areas.
People should check with their local councils if incinerators are permitted. If so, they can only be used Monday to Saturday between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm and only to burn dry paper, dry wood or dried prunings. It is also an offence to burn plastics, permapine and other chemical emitting refuse.
Burning off to reduce bush fire hazards is permitted so long as either the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 (SA) allows or the Environmental Protection Authority or local council has given written consent.
Smoke from slow combustion heaters and other fires is also governed by the Public and Environmental Health Act 1987 (SA) [see s 17]. If the smoke contains offensive material or odours or there is a risk to health, a council officer can issue a notice prohibiting the use of the heater or allowing its use under certain conditions.
Offensive smoke, smells or polluted air may constitute a nuisance and the neighbour can be sued. Even where it is not legally a nuisance, if it occurs as a result of a breach of the Act, or a breach of some condition under which planning approval has been given, it might still be possible to take legal action.
Some air pollution may be caused in a manner that is provocative and could give rise to an Intervention Order [Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA) ss 6, 8].
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.