Creating all-electric homes and businesses in Canada Bay LGA

by Councillor Charles Jago, Canada Bay Council

On Tuesday, 19th September 2023, I introduced a “Notice of Motion” to ban the use of gas cooking and space heating appliances in new buildings in Canada Bay, which was supported by all councillors.

“Natural” gas, mostly composed of methane, is widely used in NSW for cooking, space heating and hot water heating. The role of methane as a key greenhouse gas driving climate change is well established by science, with methane being some 80 times more potent than CO2. Reducing the prevalence of methane in the atmosphere offers one of the most effective ways to reduce the climate crisis.

Natural gas is a significant danger to people’s health. It contains oxides of nitrogen (often called NOx) which cause respiratory irritation. It generates carbon monoxide, the leading cause of accidental poisoning worldwide, with the actual extent far higher than actually diagnosed (references 3 & 4).

As a result, natural gas has been shown to be responsible for 12% of childhood asthma (see reference 1 below). The burning of natural gas also creates benzene, a cancer-causing chemical (references 7 & 8).

Unfortunately, the Australian and NSW governments are extremely tardy in following the examples of Victoria and ACT in phasing out domestic use of fossil gas. The obvious approach would be to start by preventing installations in new developments, followed by a planned approach that educates the public and promotes the (better and cheaper) alternatives in coordination with future rule changes.

NSW councils are now starting to step up to take action in this space, but face a particular problem – that they are not legally able to change their planning rules. The previous NSW Coalition government introduced rules that prevent councils from modifying their planning rules (ie rules governing construction and modifications of all buildings) with any change that has the aim of addressing climate change. Any changes with this goal can only be made by the NSW government. That’s why this motion (and similar ones before it such as the one in Waverley Council) have primarily been based on health grounds. And – as the background and motion make clear – the medical science underlying the problems with “natural” gas is very strong (see links below). Note that this NSW government rule also blocks important changes required to significantly improve the energy efficiency of new buildings, and the new Labor NSW government shows no sign of changing these limitations on councils’ ability to take necessary action.

Note that the motion does not implement an immediate ban, but calls for a council report on the best way to implement that ban. This ensures that the final measure will be as effective as possible, and was important in gaining support from other councillors by excluding any unintended consequences from the changes put in place. Also, the ban would not necessarily prevent the use of gas hot water heating appliances, which in the substantial majority of cases would be installed outdoors, and thus not affect indoor air quality.

I would again like to express my thanks to Councillor (and Dr) Joe Cordaro for seconding my motion, and to the other councillors for unanimously supporting it.

Background (as given in the council meeting agenda)

The purpose of this motion is to address a key health safety issue – indoor air pollution – in new developments. This motion does not apply for existing dwellings.

As detailed in the recommendations above, evidence has been emerging for some time about significant health problems caused by the use of natural gas in the home, in particular for cooking and for heating.

In its planning and compliance responsibilities, Council has a duty of care for health and safety. This is why we have rules requiring fences around swimming pools and ban the use of asbestos in construction. It is now time to apply the same approach to indoor air quality, and specifically to ban the installation of fossil gas in new residential and commercial developments. Clear evidence exists of the effect of fossil gas in carbon monoxide poisoning and contributing to childhood asthma, plus clear indications of other issues.

Electric appliances offer an alternative which is not only safer, but also cheaper. Gas is expensive, and expected to become even more so. In the current housing and cost-of-living crisis, households face increases of 20 per cent or more in 2023/24, even under caps set by the Australian Energy Regulator (9). Research by Energy Consumers Australia and the CSIRO, published in August 2023, found that as more households electrify all their appliances, the households that remain connected to gas are likely to pay much higher bills, with gas becoming increasingly expensive compared to electricity (10).

The environmental benefits of phasing out gas should also be noted.

With safer and cheaper alternatives on hand, it is time to rule out gas installations in new developments.

The motion as unanimously passed

  1. That Council note:
    1. “Natural” gas is a fossil fuel which can significantly degrade human health, especially indoors in gas heating or gas cooking. Health issues and other risks related to the use of gas include:
      1. An Australian study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (1) found that gas cooktops are associated with around 12 per cent of childhood asthma in Australia.
      2. According to Doctors for the Environment Australia, the most serious complication of burning gas indoors arises from carbon monoxide poisoning (2), which can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain and death. Longer-term exposure at lower levels can also lead to significant illness. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning worldwide (3), with the actual extent far higher than actually diagnosed (4).
      3. Burning of gas produces oxides of nitrogen (and specifically NO2) cause airway constriction and sensitisation to allergens (5). Short-term exposure to NO2 may be associated with cardiovascular effects and premature mortality and that long-term exposure may be associated with cardiovascular effects, diabetes, poorer birth outcomes, premature mortality, and cancer (6) (with some qualifications regarding those effects).
      4. In addition, US researchers from Stanford University have linked gas stoves and ovens to carcinogenic chemicals like benzene (7). Long-term exposure to benzene is linked to acute lymphocytic leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, childhood leukaemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (8).
      5. Gas appliances create a risk of fires.
    2. The Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have now introduced new planning rules which require new developments (both residential and non-residential) to be all-electric and have set dates to phase out their gas supply networks. In the USA, similar measures have been passed so far in New York State and 50 municipalities in California, including San Jose, Berkeley and San Francisco. Likewise, Holland and Denmark also are banning many connections of new developments to the gas network. In addition, the UK is phasing out new gas boilers for home heating.
    3. A number of councils in NSW and Victoria have made recent decisions to replace gas with electricity in new developments on health grounds (not covering existing dwellings). Specifically:
      1. In December 2022, Waverley Council implemented a new DCP which requires electric stoves, cooktops and heaters (not gas) to be installed in new residential development.
      2. Parramatta Council recently implemented new planning rules that require new developments (both residential and non-residential) in its city centre to be all- electric. They are currently considering further changes to require all new non-residential buildings to be all-electric.
      3. The City of Sydney has recently agreed to investigate amending their planning controls to require all new residential developments to be all electric, with a report back to councillors as soon as possible.
      4. The City of Canterbury Bankstown Council has introduced plans to ban gas in a precinct of new apartments.
      5. Melbourne City Council has introduced plans to ban gas in new apartments.
  2. That Council staff prepare a report on options for updating Council’s planning documents to ban gas installations and appliances in all new residential and commercial developments, to address the range of issues arising in implementing this direction, and to identify possible further measures to reduce the prevalence of gas installations in buildings.

References & links

  1. Knibbs et al., ‘Damp Housing, Gas Stoves, and the Burden of Childhood Asthma in Australia’. <>
  2. Doctors for the Environment Australia, Home gas appliances fact sheet,
  3. Watt S, Prado CE, Crowe SF. Immediate and delayed neuropsychological effects of carbon monoxide poisoning: a meta-analysis. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2018;24(4):405-15, <>.
  4. Kar-Purkayastha I, Finlay S, Murray V. Low-level exposure to carbon monoxide. Br J Gen Pract 2012;62(601):404, <>.
  5. Ewald, Ben, Crisp, George, Carey, Marion, Health risks from indoor gas appliances, Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP), Volume 51, Issue 12, December 2022.
  6. U.S. EPA. Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for Oxides of Nitrogen – Health Criteria (Final Report, Jan 2016). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-15/068, 2016.
  7. Yannai S. Kashtan, Metta Nicholson, Colin Finnegan, Zutao Ouyang, Eric D. Lebel, Drew R. Michanowicz, Seth B.C. Shonkoff, and Robert B. Jackson, ‘Gas and Propane Combustion from Stoves Emits Benzene and Increases Indoor Air Pollution’. Environmental Science & Technology 2023 57 (26), 9653-9663. <>
  8. ‘Benzene and Cancer Risk’. American Cancer Society. <>
  9. Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), 1 July 2023 electricity price increases, <,by%20the%20Australian%20Energy%20Regulator.>
  10. Energy Consumers Australia, Stepping up: A smoother pathway to decarbonising homes, <>