An updated Notice has been drawn up by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and CANEGROWERS to ensure cane fires are safe and legal where they are necessary.
The new Notification for Burning of Sugar Cane was gazetted on 31 May 2019 and it replaces a previous Notification issued in 2004 and the CANEGROWERS Cane Firing Guide.
Full details are available on the Rural Fire Service website:
CANEGROWERS has for some time been concerned that the previous Notification and Guide were open to interpretation and required a review. Added to this, a number of things have changed since their release in 2004:
- Cane burning frequency has changed significantly with green cane harvesting. One of the effects of this is that the skills and experience for cane burning has declined.
- Increased urbanisation and concerns about burning cane affecting health makes it more important to ensure that burning is carried out with due consideration and legally
- Several deaths in recent years have been investigated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland which highlighted the risk of cane burning
The new Cane Burning Notification gives cane growers the authority to burn sugarcane in accordance with the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990, provided minimum conditions are met.
The main change from the old Notice is that the new one more clearly spells out that eligible land applies to parcels of land (effectively a cane farm) that produce sugar cane under a supply contract and that parcel of land is either:
- fully surrounded by other parcels of cane land
- adjacent to a road reserve that may contain a local road but not a main road or highway with cane land on the other side
- adjacent to a single parcel of land (no greater than 2,000 square metres) with the same ownership and with up to two dwellings
- adjacent to parcels of land used for rural purposes other than the production of sugar provided there is written advice that there is no objection from that land owner or occupier.
It is also clear that cane cannot be burnt under this Notice and a permit will be required to burn if the parcel of cane land:
- adjoins a road reserve that includes a highway or main road.
- adjoins a parcel of land that is used for urban purposes or other intensive activities
There are also minimum conditions for weather, smoke hazard (signs), equipment and persons.
It is important for growers to be clear as to whether they can meet all the conditions of the Cane Burning Notification. If the conditions cannot be met, then a permit will be required from the local Fire Warden.
It is also recommended that if there is any doubt or uncertainty around whether the cane can be burnt legally under the Notification, or you want to remove all doubt, then a permit should be obtained from the local Fire Warden and the conditions of this permit followed. To find the local fire warden use the Fire Warden Finder.