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We breathe what you burn

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As the days get shorter and nights grow colder heading into winter, the Regional Council wants to share a timely reminder to the Hawke’s Bay community about rural and urban burning rules.

 Regional Council Group Manager Policy and Regulation Katrina Brunton says education and enforcement is producing great results for our community.

 “For the past two years, burning and smoke complaints have decreased from 143 in 2018/19, to 78 in 2020/21,” says Mrs Brunton.

 “Over winter in 2021, the air quality standards were exceeded only once in Napier while in Hastings, there were no recorded exceedances for the first time since recording began.”

 The Regional Council is running its We breathe what you burn campaign again this year to highlight the rules and encourage people to consider their neighbours and community before outdoor burning.

 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 and search #burning.

The rules are slightly different for people outside the Napier and Hastings airsheds, she says

 “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 burning rules we can keep our community safe.”

 The Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline receives burning and smoke nuisance complaints, which can result in enforcement action ranging from instant fines up to $1000, abatement notices and prosecution.

 Mrs 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 and to protect the health of our environment and our community, we sometimes need to use the court to enforce the rules,” she says.  In 2020/21, we issued 31 infringement fines and two people/businesses were prosecuted for illegal burning.

 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 and search #burning

2 May 2022

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