Brr…It’s Cold Out There!! Are Wood Heaters Permitted in Lane Cove?

Lane Cove Fireplace

Winter has finally arrived. ITC’s inbox has been inundated with newsletters from different organisations promoting the benefit of wood heaters. One article claimed it was the most efficient heating solution and environmentally sustainable. ITC even received an Email from one of the Real Housewives of Melbourne telling me how to care for a fire.

The ITC household has two fireplaces and we have never fired them up. A warm fire is cozy and nice, but do you neighbours appreciate your fireplace? According to the NSW EPA site, a wood heater can cause issues with neighbours. The SA EPA has a whole page dedicated to neighbour disputes arising over a wood burning heater.

Are Wood Heaters Permitted in Lane Cove?

ITC was not even sure if wood heaters were even permitted in the Lane Cove Council area. It was not easy to find, but the Lane Cove Council does have a policy on wood heaters. You can access the policy here.

The Lane Cove Council policy on wood heaters is:

Council’s position is not abolish the use of domestic solid fuel heaters within the local government area. However, Council will continue to encourage the community to consider improved residential insulation and alternative approaches to home heating and design which minimise the potential for pollution and encourage the use of renewable resources and more sustainable energy alternatives.

According to the NSW EPA smoke from, wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. In fact, during winter, wood heaters can produce up to seven times as much particle pollution as cars. Not only is a smoking fire wasting money, but the air pollution it causes impacts on health.

Make Sure Your Wood Heater is Working Correctly

The most important thing to do is to make sure your wood heater is working correctly. The EPA list of Do’s and Don’t’s for a wood burning heater are listed below:



Do Check your heater complies with the Australian Standard for pollution emissions (AS 4013:1999) Don't Don’t use old inefficient heaters that don’t comply with pollution standards
Don't Don’t use open fires

Do Burn only, dry seasoned hardwood Don't Don’t burn coal, coke or moist wood
Do Check your wood is dry by tapping it with a coin. You should hear a loud, hollow sound. Don't Don’t burn rubbish or painted or treated wood
Do Use a number of small logs in your heater Don't Don’t burn just one log

Do Store freshly cut wood for eight to twelve months before use Don't Don’t use green wood
Do Store wood under cover in a dry ventilated area Don't Don’t store your wood where it is exposed to water or moisture

Do Be aware of the source of your wood Don't Don’t harvest wood in a way that threatens vegetation and animal habitats
Do Ask your wood seller to verify whether wood for immediate use is aged and dry

Do Stack wood loosely in your fire box, so plenty of air circulates around it Don't Don’t pack wood too tightly in the firebox
Do Keep the flame lively and bright Don't Don’t let your fire smoulder
Do Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after loading the heater Don't Don’t keep the vent closed when you add fuel

Do Keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame or let it go out overnight Don't Don’t dampen down your fire or let it smoulder overnight
Do Rely on your home’s insulation to hold in enough heat for the night Don't Don’t allow creosote to build up in the flue, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
Do Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning.  If it is smoky, increase the air supply
Do Clean the woodheater flue and baffle regularly


The old adage of where there is smoke, there is fire is true with the wood heater.

Image Source: Lane Cove Council
Image Source: Lane Cove Council

The first two pictures on the right are examples of excessive smoke and are deemed unacceptable. The last picture shows an acceptable level of smoke.

In a nutshell, wood heaters are permitted, however, they must be used correctly. If you use your wood heater correctly it will save you money and your neighbours won’t get upset.

A number of tools are available to help you use your wood heater correctly, minimise harmful wood smoke pollution and save money. The  Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) have some useful tools available on their website and you can order a FREE copy of the DVD, Clear Skies—getting the most out of your wood heater from the AHHA.  Email:

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