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A firmer approach to outdoor burning in Christchurch

Wednesday, July 10, 2019   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: safety

Environment Canterbury media release: 9th July 2019

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

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.

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

View the full details on Environment Canterbury’s outdoor burning rules.

“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.

“63 percent of reports received in the Christchurch-West Melton zone from May to August last year were related to discharge to air, including 22 percent 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.

Environment Canterbury undertook a pilot project to issue infringements on the spot last year, 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 the Check It's Alright website to find out if any restrictions are in place in your area, or if you require a permit. Fire and Emergency NZ advise that people should ensure any fire remains under control and does not pose a threat to other property even in an open fire season. People also need to always check the weather forecast before lighting and make sure fires are completely extinguished afterwards .

Check Fire and Emergency NZ’s rules and requirements at

Alternatives to burning

“We suggest using alternative options instead of burning rubbish or vegetation. This inlcudes 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.”

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch