After several rounds of broad community consultation and review between 2020 and 2022, the updates to local fire control laws have now come into effect, supporting the improved management and regulation of the use of fire on Norfolk Island.
The Norfolk Island Continued Laws Amendment (Fire Control) Ordinance 2023 updates and makes improvements to the Fire Control Act 2000 (NI) (Fire Control Act). The revised laws impose stronger restrictions on the use of fire on-Island, establish a more robust permit system and help reduce risks to people, property and the environment.
A key feature of the updated legislation is the extension of the fire permit system, including requiring permits year-round for fires to clear land, burn firebreaks, and burn large quantities of green waste.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the Department) recognises that green waste on Norfolk Island is regularly managed and disposed of by burning.
Following community feedback - including a small number of submissions received by the Department when the draft ordinance was released for public comment in August 2022 - the updated Fire Control Act preserves people’s ability to burn green waste without a permit for quantities less than four cubic metres. This size restriction balances the need to continue disposing of green waste through burning, with the risks posed by large-scale fires.
Where green waste fuel is larger than four cubic metres, permission for burning off will be required so Norfolk Island’s fire authorities are aware of what fires are planned and can allocate resources accordingly.
These changes to the permit system are aimed at giving the Chief Fire Control Officer better visibility of planned fires, to ensure safety and health outcomes for the community. The legislative updates were commenced at the request of the Chief Fire Control Officer in 2020, with the Norfolk Island community having been previously consulted on the proposed changes in 2020 and 2021.
The Ordinance does not impose any requirements for fees for permits. The Chief Fire Control Officer and Norfolk Island Regional Council do not currently collect fees for permits. Council currently requires permits (without a fee) for burning during high fire danger periods. Fees are only charged for extinguishing fires either not notified or left unattended.
Other changes include updates to the language, modernising penalty provisions, increasing deterrents and extending the maximum term of the Chief Fire Control Officer.
Now it is in place, the Department and relevant stakeholders will continue to review the application of the Fire Control Act so it remains fit-for-purpose.
The ordinance is available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2023L00091
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts