Neighbourhood Issues

Burning

Backyard Burning
Burning rubbish or any other matter in your backyard incinerator or in the open is prohibited.
 
You can create a fire for cooking or heating, only if you use dried, untreated and unpainted timber or dried garden prunings and do not cause a smoke or ash nuisance.
 
Penalties apply for breaches.
 
Note: During The Fire Danger Season (on days when there is not a Total Fire Ban) the following additional requirements must be observed:
  • A 4m cleared space around and above the fire
  • A responsible and capable person in attendance at all times the fire is alight, with water or an extinguisher
     
Indoor Heating
When wood is burned correctly in a hot fire, carbon dioxide and water vapour are emitted and an ash residue is all that is left.
 
If wood is burned incorrectly it creates smoke, soot deposits, odours and a range of toxic compounds that affect air quality and cause discomfort, particularly for people with respiratory problems.
 
To gain the maximum efficiency from your wood heater or open fireplace and to help the local environment you need dry fuel, which maximises heat release during combustion. Sufficient air flow will provide oxygen for complete combustion, mixes the air and hot combustion gases to promote complete burning provides time to allow complete burning.
 
For your wood heater to be effective, the fire must burn "hot" (i.e. it must burn brightly) - closing up the heater depriving the fire of oxygen simply results in a smouldering fire with little heat output and increased smoke nuisance. A wood heater should never be closed up and certainly not left to smoulder overnight - the air control should be open to enough to maintain a flame.
 
If your heater is configured properly, leaving the air flow unrestricted overnight will result in the heater still being warm in the morning. If your house is well insulated it will stay warm, with minimal heat loss.
 
Hints
Open fires are less efficient than wood heaters - try to use the open fireplace on special occasions only.
 
Always burn dry, well-seasoned wood. It burns more cleanly and more efficiently than unseasoned wood. Unseasoned wood contains a great deal of moisture, which delays proper burning and causes smoke and toxic pollutants. Hardwoods are preferable to softwoods (e.g. pine), as softwoods tend to contain more resins that create deposits in the chimney, smoky odours and exhaust gases.
 
Loosely stack your wood off the ground in a criss-cross fashion to allow the air to circulate freely. Store it under cover, in a well-ventilated area to keep it dry. It is best to keep wood at least eight months before use to ensure it is thoroughly seasoned.
 
Further information about wood smoke is available from the SA Environment Protection Authority.

Fences

Fences less than 2.1m high on a common property boundary between neighbours are subject to the Fences Act (1975). Councils have no jurisdiction over these types of fences.

For further information visit the Legal Services Commission website.

Development Approval should be sought if:
  • any part of the fence will be made of masonry (brick, hebel, cast concrete etc) and will be 1m or more in height.
  • any part of the fence will be 2.1m or more in height but made of non-masonry construction (colorbond, iron sheeting, brush etc)
  • the proposed fence is more than 1m high and closer than 6m to a corner
  • the property is heritage listed (on either the State or Local Heritage Registers), is in a Heritage Conservation Zone or if it is in a Streetscape (Built Form) Zone.

For more information on fence design in Historic Conservation and Streetscape (Built Form) Zones, and for heritage places, please refer to the Design Guide 2 for Complementary Residential Fences, Gates and Gardens.

Swimming pool and spa owners are responsible for safety. All pools should have suitable barriers or safety fencing to restrict access by young children to the immediate pool surrounds. Visit the South Australian Government website for information on pool and spa safety.

If a house with a swimming pool or spa is for sale, the childproof safety barriers must comply with the current Australian Standards for pool safety at the date of settlement.

For further information, please phone a member of the City of Unley's Development Team on 8372 5111.

 

Noise

Although noise control is not a specific Council function, the Environmental Health Officers are keen to assist in maintaining a living environment in which nuisance is minimised.

Excessive 'people noise' like loud music, parties, and revving cars requires attendance by the Police. Should you have concerns with the amount of noise being emitted from a property, please contact the Police on 131 444 when the noise problem is occurring. However you should be aware that people noise during the day is generally not policed (unless the nuisance is demonstrably unreasonable) and attendance by the Police will usually only occur if a noise nuisance continues after 11pm.

For noise from premises licensed under the Liquor Licensing Act 1997, please contact the Office of the Liquor and Gaming Commissioner on 8226 8410.

The SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will investigate noise nuisances relating to commercial premises and to machinery on residential premises, including air-conditioners, lawn mowers and pool filters. Council's Environmental Health Officers can and do assist the EPA in providing local information. Contact the EPA on 8204 2000.

Visit the SA Environment Protection Authority website.

If you have concerns about animal noise nuisance (i.e. barking dogs, noisy roosters, etc), please contact the Council Ranger during office hours on 8372 5111.

The legislation relating to noise nuisance does not apply to noise from wild birds and animals.

 

Overhanging Foliage

Overhanging foliage is the responsibility of the owner of the plant or tree. The owner can be requested by the City of Unley to remove foliage if it is deemed to pose a danger to pedestrians or vehicles.

Please help keep Unley's streets safe and attractive by regularly checking trees and pruning them if they look like they may cause injury or damage.

 

Pest Management

A pest is any animal (or plant) which has a harmful effect on humans, their food or their living conditions. Pests can include animals which carry parasites, destroy food sources, cause damage to buildings, contaminate or destroy stored foods, cause damage to clothing, or bite people. The majority of pests which are harmful to humans are insects.

Pest control is the action taken to help keep the number of pests down to a level where the risk to people, food sources and the environment is minimised.

We can provide some assistance with controlling pests in our local environment. If you have any enquiries regarding pest control, please phone 8372 5111.
  • Bats
    The Department of Environment, Water and Natural  Resources (DEWNR) says there are now more than 1,000 Grey-headed Flying-foxes in Adelaide's eastern suburbs.

    It is believed that the Grey-headed Flying-foxes have travelled from western Victoria and the South East of South Australia, having been displaced from their original range in Queensland and New South Wales, probably due to habitat clearance and a critical lack of food.

    DEWNR is working with other government and non-government agencies including the SA Museum and the University of South Australia on a plan to relocate the Grey-headed Flying-foxes from the site at Fullarton, so that they may resettle in a more appropriate area, where their impacts on properties and residents will not be so great.

    If any of the sites where the Grey-headed Flying-foxes resettle are deemed inappropriate, then further efforts will be made to relocate them. It's important that any relocation efforts are done in a careful and coordinated manner to ensure that the Grey-headed Flying-foxes remain strong and healthy, so that when the time comes they are fit to travel back east.

    Grey-headed Flying-foxes are considered threatened nationally, have experienced a serious decline in numbers in recent times and are a protected species in South Australia.

    It is very important that members of the public do not attempt to disperse, frighten or harass Grey-headed Flying-foxes, because it may reduce the effectiveness of any coordinated relocation methods being used by DEWNR.

    Molesting a protected species is also an offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.
     
    What should I do if I see a flying-fox?
    If you see any flying-foxes, particularly if they are roosting in a particular location during the day, please call the Department of Environment, Water and Natural  Resources on 8273 9100 or email FlyingFoxWatch@sa.gov.au to report their location.
     
    What should I do if I find an injured Flying-fox?
    If people find a sick or injured Grey-headed Flying-fox or one trapped in fruit-netting, they should not touch it, but instead call DEWNR on (08) 8273 9100 for advice.

    All sick or stressed wild animals can scratch or bite when handled and a very low percentage of Grey-headed Flying-foxes carry diseases including Australian Bat Lyssavirus. There's no need to be frightened, but it's important to avoid physical contact with them.
     
    What should I do if I get bitten or scratched by a flying-fox?
    In the unlikely event someone is bitten or scratched by a Grey-headed Flying-fox, or any other Australian bat species, they should immediately wash the wound thoroughly with warm soapy water for five minutes and then seek medical advice as soon as possible.
  • Bed Bugs
    Bed bugs are irritating, blood-feeding insects that hide in cracks and crevices, coming out at night to feed. Once an area has become infested with bed bugs, they can be quite difficult to eradicate.

    The adult bed bug is an oval insect, 5mm long by about 3mm wide. If the bed bug has not recently fed it is flat and red-brown in colour. Once it has taken a feed it changes to a dark mahogany colour and becomes more rounded.

    Bed bugs can unwittingly be carried into clean well-kept properties, just by the movement of second-hand furniture from an infested property.

    Bed bugs are not known to carry disease. However their blood feeding:


    Can causes severe irritation for some people May result in lack of sleep and energy Can cause anaemia in children May leave blackish spots on furnishings from their excreta

    In early infestations the bedbugs are found only in the seams and folds of mattresses and covers and later they spread to cracks and crevices in the bedsteads. If allowed to multiply, they establish themselves behind skirtings, window and door architraves, pictures and mouldings and in furniture, loosened wallpaper and cracks in plaster and partitions.
     
    Prevention

    Maintain high levels of hygiene and housekeeping. Wash all bedding, curtains and clothing in hot water on a regular basis. Vacuum and steam clean carpets. Remove dust, fluff and debris from cracks, crevices, seams on mattress, etc.

    In recent decades they have been quite uncommon, so if you can provide us with a sample we can ascertain that it is definitely a bed bug.

    To eradicate the problem completely you will need professional help because they must be treated with a suitable insecticide. It may be necessary to remove carpets and furniture, architraves and ceiling roses and in severe cases wallpaper and skirting to ensure the insecticide reaches all areas. If possible, bedding materials including the mattress should be heat‑sterilised. If this is not possible, disposal may need to be an option. Some populations of bedbugs can be resistant to insecticides even after a thorough treatment.

    For further information visit the South Australian Department of Health website
  • Bees
    Bees on Private Property

    If you find a swarm of bees on your property, you should call an apiarist. Contact Bee Keepers Society of SA for a list of ‘Swarm Removalists’  or a pest controller. Do not forget that most bees can sting, so it is best to stay away from them.

    Swarming Bees

    During spring and the early months of summer, a colony of bees may leave its hive and establish another colony elsewhere. This is a natural instinct of the bees during which some of the bees from the existing colony will swarm out to find a new home. When the bees have found a suitable site, they will begin building a new hive.

    Swarming bees are generally not inclined to sting providing they are left alone. It is advisable to vacate the area (if possible) until the swarm has settled. Watch for foraging bees flying to and from the area and be sure to wear protective footwear to protect your feet from bees that have landed on the ground.

    Do not attempt to remove a swarm by throwing rocks at it, dousing it with a hose or discharging a firearm. These actions are likely to aggravate the bees and encourage them to defend their hive. Often bees that clump together on a tree or fence may take off in a couple of days. If they have found a home in a tree hollow or wall cavity, then assistance will be required to remove them.

    Who to contact

    To report a swarm that has settled in a street tree, a Council-owned building or on a Council Reserve, please contact the City of Unley on 8372 5111. An officer will take your report of the whereabouts of the bees.

    Keeping Bees
    If you wish to keep bees, please be aware that:
    • Hives should be at least 30 metres from any street, road or lane and from any premises
    • The bees should be provided with an accessible and adequate supply of fresh water
    • The bees should not constitute a nuisance or danger to persons in the vicinity
  • European Wasps
    If you find a nest it is important that you do not disturb it. Have it removed by the City of Unley by phoning 8372 5111.

    European Wasp nests are constructed of grey material similar to papier-mâché. Nests constructed of mud are not made by European Wasps. European Wasps can scavenge for food up to 500m from their nest.

    Nests may be located in retaining walls, tree hollows, wall cavities or underground.

    To locate the nest you can attract the wasps by placing meat or pet food where you can see it and note the direction the wasp flies once it has collected the food.

    European Wasps look similar to bees but are distinguishable by their bright yellow legs, triangular markings on their abdomens and they fold their wings back when they rest.
  • Foxes
    It is not unusual to find foxes in suburban areas.

    Foxes in the Unley area periodically cause significant problems for householders and their animals. A brochure about fox control in urban areas has been prepared by the Natural Resource Management Board (below).

    Pets and domestic animals that are susceptible to fox attack. Poultry, rabbits and guinea pigs should be housed in a sturdy, roofed enclosure at night or when left unattended during the day. Foxes can be very determined so cages need to be fully enclosed and made from material that they cannot chew through or dig under. As a general principle, if a cat is able to gain access to an enclosure, then a fox can too.

    For further information, please contact the Sustainable Landscapes Officer at the Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board on 8273 9100 or email reception@adelaide.nrm.sa.gov.au.

    Urban foxes brochure
  • Fruit Fly
    To report finding maggots in any fruits or vegetables please phone the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010.

    If an outbreak occurs, we will work in partnership with the Department of Industries and Primary Resources South Australia to inform local residents and businesses about the outbreak and the necessary eradication program. South Australia is free of fruit fly, which enables

    South Australian producers of fruit and vegetables to sell to markets around the world. Strict quarantine regulations to protect South Australia make it illegal to bring fruit and vegetables into South Australia from other states.
  • Mosquitoes
    Mosquitoes breed in still water and primarily during the summer months.

    The Department of Health has resources available regarding protection against and control of mosquitoes. View the Fight the Bite resources here.

    The best way to control mosquitoes is to get rid of the places where they can breed. Removing all opportunities for water to collect and remain undisturbed is the best place to start. Some things to consider include:
     
    • Removing all discarded tins, jars, tyres and other rubbish items left outside that may hold water
    • Putting sand around the bases of pot plants to absorb water in each dish
    • Fitting fine, insect-proof screens on all windows, doors and ventilation openings of your house
    • Screening all openings to tanks, wells or other large water containers with wire gauze no coarser than 1mm mesh
    • Keeping roof gutters in good repair and regularly remove leaves and debris so that pools do not form and trim trees to prevent leaves and debris from blocking roof gutters
    • Keeping fishponds and ornamental ponds stocked with goldfish and native Australian fish
    • Keeping swimming pools or wading pools chlorinated
    • Drilling holes in tyres used for swings and garden surrounds to allow water to drain from them
    • Regularly changing water in birdbaths and pet drinking dishes
    • Keeping all open drains and channels free from obstructions, especially weeds, grass and other debris
    • Keeping boats, canoes and dinghies overturned or with the drain plug removed
    • Repair leaking taps

    Mosquitoes can also breed in containers or tanks used to store stormwater, grey water and rainwater. Containers should be emptied, fitted with a well sealing lid, or openings covered with mosquito-proof mesh. If mosquito larvae ('wrigglers') are present then screen or close-off the point of entry. Do not allow water to pool in containers below the outlets or taps.

    As a last resort, rainwater tanks can be treated by adding a small amount of liquid paraffin or domestic kerosene. Do not apply kerosene if water levels are low.

    Add 5ml of kerosene or one teaspoon for a 1 kilolitre tank – up to 15ml or three teaspoons for a 10 kilolitre tank. When using paraffin, double the dose. Consult your rainwater tank manufacturer about whether kerosene can be used.

    To avoid bites, you should:
     
    • Wear long, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing
    • Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) or picaridin on exposed skin (always read and follow label instructions and avoid use around babies and toddlers)
    • Cover sleeping areas with mosquito nets
    • Avoid going outside when mosquitoes are most active
    • When camping, avoid areas near creeks, waterholes or in long grass
  • Pigeons
    Many of the problems caused by pigeons constitute a nuisance, rather than a direct threat to public health.

    The feral pigeon is a descendant of the domestic homing pigeon. The bird has easily adapted to the urban environment and continues to prosper.
     
    Health Concerns

    The problems presented by pigeons generally constitute a nuisance, rather than a direct threat to public health, as the risk of transmission of disease is dependent on the nature of contact with birds and their faeces. Where there is no direct contact with the birds or their faeces, the relative risk of contracting illnesses is deemed to be low.

    In relation to concerns regarding potential contamination of rainwater tanks by pigeon faeces, the Department of Health recommends the use of first flush devices. First flush devices prevent the first portion of roof run-off from being collected and will reduce the amounts of dust, bird droppings, leaves and other accumulated debris from being washed into tanks. Alternatively, the tank inlet could be disconnected so that the first run-off of rain after a dry spell is not collected.
     
    Control

    Pigeons are able to roost on very narrow ledges, beams and roof lines. In the urban environment building facades, roofs and bridges provide plenty of roosting options and human activity provides a variety of food sources. In the Unley area, there are intermittent reports of problems caused by uncontrolled and unowned pigeon flocks.

    In large numbers, pigeons damage buildings due to the acidic nature of their faeces. Feathers, eggs and dead birds also foul the environment and buildings, sometimes blocking gutters which can lead to flooding in rain events.

    Consequently, just as there is a need to control rat and mice numbers, it is equally important to control the feral pigeon population. No single method of control offers the ultimate solution, but rather a combination of methods, with the responsibility having to be shared by the Council, industry, businesses and residents.

    In order to assist with the control of pigeon numbers, there needs to be a reduction in available food sources, a reduction in available nesting and roosting sites and pigeon-proofing of buildings. In cases where there is an established population, trapping or culling are also options. In these cases, you are advised to use a licensed pest controller.

    Some businesses, as well as the Council, have already undertaken extensive pigeon‑proofing of their buildings by using spikes and fine wires. These deterrents are effective in reducing the number of birds able to land and roost on building ledges, window sills and roof tops. Along with this, new building work should also consider designs that do not provide roosting points and ledges for the birds.

    The use of poison baits is not recommended as it is impossible to target just pigeons without affecting other birds.

    For further information, please phone 8372 5111 or your licensed pest controller.
  • Possums

    All possums in South Australia are protected animals. In accordance with the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, it is an offence to handle or interfere with any native animal without a permit. This offence carries a minimum $2,500 fine or an imprisonment term of six months.

    If you require a permit, you may make application to your local ranger from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) by:

    • Phoning 8278 5477 if you are in Blackforest or Goodwood
    • Phoning 8336 0901 for any other suburb within the City of Unley


    It is important to keep in mind that capturing possums can cause harm and distress to the animal if the trap is not managed properly. You need to consider how much time the possum will spend in the trap, protection of the possum from any predators while trapped and also protection of the possum from environmental effects such as dehydration.

    The possum must be released on the same property within 50m of the site of capture. You should release the possum after dusk and ensure that all reasonable steps to protect the possum from injury or predation by other animals are taken.

    Trapping and releasing possums without possum-proofing your building will not solve the problem.

    Further information on possums is available from the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources website.

  • Rats & Mice
    Rats can be a significant public health problem if not controlled

    Rats and mice are found everywhere there is human activity. The important matter is ensuring that the population does not get out of control.

    In suburban areas it is important to minimise the impacts that rats and mice may have on your property as well as your neighbours' properties. You can control conditions on your property across four key areas to reduce the nuisance of rats and mice and decrease the likelihood that they will take up residence.
     
    Roof Space
     
    • Ensure all roof tiles, shingles or iron is maintained
    • Ensure access into roof space cavities is not available from the gutters
    • Prune or remove any tree branches which touch or significantly overhang the roof or gutters
    • Prune or remove any vines or ivy growth such that it does not encroach on downpipes, gutters or overhead wiring
     
    Control Access
     
    • Remove dense vegetation and other material from around ground floor walls which may screen access points
    • Provide screening, such as metal flywire, over any ventilation bricks and ensure that the bricks soundly fitted and not defective
    • Ensure any outside entrances to cellars and light wells are clear of debris
    • Ensure all breach points of the walls and roof are correctly finished and rodent proof, including any points where water, gas, telephone and electrical conduits or similar infrastructure enter the building
     
    Reduce Harbourage and Shelter
     
    • Regularly check all outbuildings on your property to ensure materials stored do not provide harbourage
    • Stack firewood and lengths of timber on elevated platforms away from fences and walls
    • Remove any old mattresses, sacks, carpets and similar items from sheds
    • Prevent any materials stored in the rafters of outbuildings from providing surfaces where rodents can nest
     
    Control Outdoor Food Sources
     
    • Fit metal collars to fruit trees to prevent rodents climbing to gain access
    • Harvest fruit regularly and quickly gather any windfalls, disposing of any excess or unwanted fruits correctly
    • Prevent access to pet food and bird feeders
    • Store any pet food and bird feed in rodent proof containers, such as metal containers with heavy or tight fitting lids

    If the problem you have appears to be significant, it is recommended that you engage a licensed pest controller. To find more information visit the SA Health Website.
  • Snakes
    Snakes are protected. You should not disturb, harm or destroy a snake unless it is attacking a person or animal.

    If you find a snake in your yard contact:
     
    • Snake-Away Services on 0413 511 335 (24 hours)
    • Adelaide Snake Catchers on 0413 635 373 (24 hours)

    If you require further information, you can view the Snakes Fact Sheet from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.