Public notice

ORC reminds outdoor burners of Air Plan rules as pollution complaints increase by nearly 50%

Friday 11 June 2021

In the twelve months to 1 June 2021, ORC received 355 complaints about outdoor burning, up over 242 complaints in the preceding year.

The beginning of the open fire season has kept the Otago Regional Council (ORC) pollution team busy responding to complaints of outdoor burning causing offensive or objectionable air pollution for neighbouring properties.

ORC Manager Compliance Tami Sargeant said there are no loopholes for air pollution: if your smoke is noxious or dangerous, or is having an offensive or objectionable effect on your neighbours, you must extinguish your fire immediately.

“We understand there’s a need for some rural properties to undertake a controlled burn-off, however, if that smoke crosses your property boundary and has a nuisance effect on your neighbours, you will be in breach of Otago’s Air Plan rules.

“It’s good that we’re being notified of these non-compliant burn-offs, but it would be even better if property owners picked the most appropriate days to undertake them and minimise air pollution for their neighbours,” Ms Sargeant said.

“The Air Plan rules are in place to protect the community from unnecessary health and environmental impacts.”

The following tips can help people to avoid smoky burn-offs:

  • Choose burn-off days with a slight breeze to take the smoke away.
  • Avoid days where an inversion layer of warm air is present.
  • Only burn dry material. 
  • Do not burn treated, stained or painted wood, or rubbish of any kind under any circumstances.

The Air Plan is scheduled to be reviewed in the 2022/23 year, which will be the best opportunity for anyone from the community to have their say on what needs to change.

ORC’s Pollution Hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 0800 800 033.