A firmer approach to outdoor burning in Christchurch

Environment Canterbury is reminding residents living in the Christchurch clean air zone that over the cooler months, no outdoor burning is permitted, including on properties over two hectares, except for cooking purposes.

Regional leader Resource Management Act investigations Valyn Barrett says that anyone found burning outdoors on a property within the Christchurch clean air zone could be subject to an infringement notice.

“Under the Canterbury Air Regional Plan, no outdoor burning is permitted within a clean air zone during the cooler months – from 1 May to 31 August. This includes properties over two hectares,” he said.

“The smoke from outdoor burns can have a negative impact on air quality and can be a nuisance for neighbours. Our incident response officers will be prioritising attending smoke nuisance complaints in the Christchurch clean air zone wherever possible for the remainder of winter.

“Of reports received in the Christchurch-West Melton zone from May to August last year, 63% were related to discharge to air, including 22% specifically for smoke from outdoor burning.

We know that it’s a real concern for the community which is why we are undertaking a targeted response to this specific activity within the Christchurch clean air zone for the remainder of winter.”

The infringement amount under the Resource Management Act is $300 for a private property and $1,000 for a commercial property.

Last year, Environment Canterbury undertook a pilot project to issue infringements on the spot, specific to non-compliant erosion and sediment control. Officers will be using instant infringements where appropriate for non-compliant outdoor burns.

Burning in rural areas

Barrett acknowledges that smoke from outdoor burns can also cause nuisance issues in rural areas outside of the clean air zones.

“In rural areas outside of clean air zones, provided there are no Fire and Emergency restrictions in place, you can burn dry vegetation at any time of year, as long as conditions under the Canterbury Air Regional Plan are met.

For example, the discharge must not cause an offensive, objectionable or an adverse effect beyond the boundary of the property of origin,” he said.

Any outdoor burns must also comply with Fire and Emergency NZ rules – see checkitsalright.nz to find out if any restrictions are in place in your area, or if you require a permit. 

Fire and Emergency NZ advise that even in an open fire season, people should ensure any fire remains under control and does not pose a threat to other property, to always check the weather forecast before lighting and to make sure fires are completely extinguished afterwards.

Alternatives to burning

“Instead of burning rubbish or vegetation, we suggest using alternative options such as disposing of the waste at an approved facility like an EcoDrop, composting, mulching, using kerb-side collection services or visiting a transfer station,” said Barrett.

Reporting an incident

Barrett says that receiving as much detail as possible, including an address, is critical for the team to effectively respond.

“Without an address, it is often difficult for our officers to find the source of the smoke. Additionally, dependent on resourcing and the time an incident is reported, we can’t always attend right away, so having a specific location is essential in being able to follow up.”

To report a burning related incident, call Environment Canterbury’s incident response line on 0800 765 588 (24 hours), or use Snap Send Solve. If you believe a fire is threatening property or is out of control, call 111.

More information