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We breathe what you burn

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The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says the colder autumn weather serves as a timely reminder to the community about rural and urban burning rules.

 The Regional Council’s Group Manager Policy and Regulation, Katrina Brunton, says burning and smoke complaints made up 19 per cent of all reports to the pollution hotline during the 2019-2020 year.

 “This year we are running a campaign called We breathe what you burn to highlight the rules and encourage people to consider their neighbours and community before outdoor burning,” she says.

 Regional Council rules for backyard burning fall into two categories depending where people live, says Mrs Brunton.

 “Firstly, I’d like to remind the community that outdoor burning is banned for properties in the Napier and Hastings airsheds from 1 May until 31 August. Residents can check if they are in an airshed on the Regional Council’s website,” she says.

 The rules are slightly different for people outside the Napier and Hastings airsheds.

 “Outdoor fires are allowed outside of the airsheds if they follow certain rules. These include only burning untreated wood, paper, cardboard, or vegetation, and ensuring that your fire isn’t a nuisance to anyone around you.”

 Also, outdoor fires are not allowed when there’s a restricted fire season or fire ban in place. Fire restrictions and permits are managed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. However, anyone who has a permit must still follow the Regional Council’s rules.

 Regional councillor Jerf van Beek, a leading figure in the Hawke’s Bay horticulture community, supports the campaign and reminds the horticulturalists, farmers and life-stylers to follow the rules.

 “We all need to play our part to keep our air breathable, and by following the Regional Council burning rules we can keep our community safe.”

 The Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline receives an average of 200 burning and smoke nuisance complaints each year. These breaches can result in enforcement action, which can range from instant fines up to $1000, abatement notices and prosecution.

 In the past month, two businesses pleaded guilty to illegal burning and were fined a total of $23,440 in the Hastings District Court. Katrina Brunton says the Hawke’s Bay community has sent strong signals to the Regional Council that it values clean air and water.

 “To uphold these values, we are unfortunately forced to using the court to enforce the rules to protect the health of our environment and our community,” she says.

 Anyone wanting to report nuisance or illegal burning can contact the council’s 24/7 Pollution Hotline on 0800 108 838.

 Full information on the rules around backyard burning – including a more detailed map of the existing Hastings and Napier airsheds, and a link to rules under the Proposed Regional Plan – is available from the council’s website.

3 May 2021

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