Burning some materials creates smoke that can affect your health. That’s why we get involved with backyard burning and waste fires.
Tiny particles in the smoke can go deep into your lungs. These can hold nasty chemicals that may cause breathing problems like asthma.
Smoke and fumes from things like plastics can be especially nasty, some release cancer-causing chemicals.
Children, the elderly and those with breathing problems are most harmed by poor air quality.
What are the rules?
It’s illegal for people to create a smoke nuisance. They can be hit with an instant fine of up to $1000.
Our Air Quality Plan says what you can and what you can’t burn. There are a lot of things that are illegal to burn, like rubber (including tyres), hazardous substances or their containers, oil, coated metal cable, vehicle parts and timber treated with copper, chrome and arsenic.
You’re not allowed to burn plastic agrichemical containers and any halogenated plastic products like PVC pipes.
Paper, cardboard and untreated timber can be burned on trade and industrial premises if the fire is contained in an incinerator. The smoke must not cause a nuisance to any neighbours. Other waste cannot be burned on industrial sites without resource consent.
Inside Whangarei airshed boundaries (see map)
Residents of Whangarei City can no longer burn waste within the city's airshed area (see map) unless they hold a resource consent, or their property is larger than one hectare. However, burning for food cooking purposes using barbeques, hangi, umu and wood-fired kilns is still permitted.
Outside Whangarei City boundaries (see map)
Residents outside Whangarei City need to ensure that any outside fires do not cause offensive smoke or odour to neighbouring residents or obscure vision along public roads
If you are planning to burn rubbish, consider your neighbours and the environment. Follow these guidelines:
- Talk to your neighbours first, and light the fire at an agreed time - eg when they are going to be away for the day.
- Make sure the wind is blowing in the direction where the smoke will cause the least bother.
- Don't burn green plants – let them dry out and turn brown first.
- Don't burn plastics, rubber, old clothes or other things that may make nasty smoke.
- Make sure that the stuff to be burnt is dry - damp fires generate smoke.
- Use an incinerator; even a large drum with an air hole cut out of the bottom will help the fire burn more cleanly.
Fire permits and how to get one
As well as limiting the smoke from outdoor fires, it may also be necessary to obtain a fire permit from a Rural Fire Authority.
Contact Forest Protection Services on 09 430 7707 between 9am and 4pm weekdays for more information.
If you are lighting a fire within one kilometre of Department of Conservation reserve or plantation forest, you may also require a permit. Contact your local DoC office for more information.
Alternatives to burning
There are lots of ways you can dispose of your waste without burning it. You can:
- compost garden waste and paper
- mulch larger branches and add to your garden as soil conditioner
- recycle plastic, glass, tins, paper and cardboard
- use a worm farm to dispose of vegetable peelings and food scraps
- put other household rubbish out for collection by your local council or take larger quantities to the transfer station
- dispose of computer waste during E-day events
- hire a mini-skip
- register any waste that may be of use to others on the waste exchange website: www.nothrow.co.nz
Backyard burning is usually a seasonal problem that gets worse during spring and autumn. In spring and autumn more people get into their gardens and burn unwanted garden waste. Just prior to summer people often try to get a burn in before possible fire bans. When a fire ban is in force, contact your local District Council for information before you light an outdoor fire.
- Far North District Council - phone 0800 920 029
- Kaipara District Council - phone 0800 727 059
- Whangarei District Council - phone 0800 932 463
Bothered by smoke from a fire?
Ask the person who lit it to put it out.
If they won’t and the trouble continues, please call our 24/7 Environment Hotline 0800 504 639.