If the issue is of immediate danger to life or property, call 000.
When to call Access Canberra
In most cases, you should speak to the cause or source of the pollution first.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue or is unlikely to, report it.
You can either phone or report online using the Feedback and complaints form.
Call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 to report pollution related to:
- Abandoned vehicles
- Algal blooms
- Backyard burning
- Chemical spills
- Contaminated sites
- Domestic wood heaters
- Fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides
- Fish kills
- Illegal dumping in nature reserves
- Illegal dumping of solid and liquid wastes (including soil)
- Illegal dumping on unleased territory land
- Industry causing air pollution
- Industry causing water pollution
- Littering from vehicles
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Roadside litter
- Smell or odour
- Smoky motor vehicles (ACT registered)
- Stormwater system and waterways
- Transport of dangerous goods.
Other types of pollution need to be reported to other entities:
- Sewer overflows: call Icon Water on 02 6248 3111
- Aircraft: call Air Services Australian on 1800 802 584
- Major fires (industrial or bushland): call 000
- Pollution in NSW: call the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage on 13 15 55.
For noise pollution in the ACT, read about noise management.
Other environmental concerns
You can report other environmental concerns.
Call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 for issues related to:
- Damaging plants or animals in nature reserves
- Tree damaging activity (urban trees)
- Disturbance of Aboriginal sites
- Disturbance of heritage places or objects
- Injured or orphaned native wildlife - you can also call the RSPCA on 02 6287 8113
- Taking of firewood from nature reserve
- Illegal fishing.
Once aware the land they occupy is contaminated in a way that may present harm to human health or the environment, a lessee or occupier of land must notify the EPA in writing as soon as practicable.
Failure to notify may lead to a penalties.
Read about contaminated sites.
As an ACT resident or business owner, you have a general environmental duty to prevent or minimise environmental harm.
Canberra's overall air quality compared to other cities is excellent, however it has a winter pollution problem due to wood heaters.
Industry, agriculture, vehicle exhaust fumes, paints and chemicals, and illegal burning of waste can also cause air pollution.
There are resources available to help reduce and eliminate air pollution:
- Understand your responsibilities: Read the Air Pollution from Domestic Premises (PDF 373KB) (DOC 1.6MB) factsheet
- Use and maintain your wood heater correctly: Read Your guide to using a wood heater (PDF 419KB) (DOCX 366KB)
- Replace your wood heater with an electric system: visit the Everyday Climate Choices website for information on rebates
- Prevent pollution from industry and agriculture: Read the Separation Distance Guidelines for Air Emissions (PDF 419KB) (DOCX 2MB)
Complaints about wood heater smoke
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) administers the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act).
Read about the role of the EPA.
The EPA will respond to complaints about wood heater smoke and an Environment Protection Officer (EPO) will investigate to determine if the chimney smoke is causing environmental harm.
If the complaint relates to the odour, an EPO will investigate whether the odour is just wood smoke or from burning inappropriate materials including rubbish, plastic or unseasoned wood.
The EPO may issue an Infringement Notice (on-the-spot fine) of $120 if an offence has been committed. If the matter is taken to court, the maximum penalty is $1,600.
The EPA will generally only use infringement notices after education and warnings have not been successful and the person persists to causes environmental harm.
In cases of blatant disregard for the environment an infringement notice will be used immediately.
Read about paying environment protection infringements.
Firewood merchants must comply with the standard conditions set out in the Environment Protection Regulation 2005.
It is illegal to cut down native trees or remove native timber from public land.