BURNING garden waste in the back yard is prohibited and could incur a $300 fine. File photo

NEW rules around backyard fires could see some people facing $300 fines.

Complaints about pollution has led to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council slamming a blanket ban on backyard fires.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council senior policy analyst Karen Parcell said smoky fires were the cause of hundreds of complaints to the pollution hotline every year.

“In 2015 the regional council received 525 complaints about outdoor smoke,” she said.

“Three quarters of those complaints were about open burning and were from people living in residential areas and tended to be about burning household or garden waste.”

Ms Parcell said residents burning waste in their backyard might feel they’re doing the right thing by keeping it out of local landfills, but they were often doing quite the opposite.

“This is because the nature of household rubbish has changed over the past 50 years,” she said.

“Today, bleached paper, plastic packaging or plastic products, and printed materials with glues, make up a large portion of society’s waste.”

This meant that when this type of rubbish was burned, harmful particles were released with the smoke.

“The new rules are based on being a good neighbour and essentially say to reduce nuisance smoke you can no longer burn a fire in your backyard or on your property if you have a dwelling within 100 metres of the fire.”

Ms Parcell said the air management rules were set under the regional air plan.
These rules are different to the bans introduced by Fire Emergency New Zealand around fire risk.

“There are exceptions to this rule, including pizza ovens, hangi pits or fires for other recreational purposes,” she said.
A plan change was notified on February 27 following a consultation process last year.

“On Tuesday, February 19 the regional direction and delivery committee approved the findings of the hearing panel and public notification of this decision is currently scheduled for March 12, 2019,” Ms Parcell said.

After some vacillation about whether different rules should apply to rural and urban areas, the council settled for the 100m distinction.

If there are neighbouring dwelling houses within a 100m radius, residents cannot burn a fire at all, unless it’s one of the exceptions.

Outside the 100m range, they can burn green waste that has been properly dried, usually two to three months, as well as paper, cardboard and not-treated timber.


BAY of Plenty Regional Council senior policy analyst Karen Parcell says that under no circumstances should people attempt to burn any of the following:

  • Household rubbish
  • Plastics of any kind
  • Treated or painted timber
  • Rubber, such as tyres
  • Chemicals and pesticides
  • Metals, including heavy metals, copper wiring, zinc
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Waste oil, including containers with residues
  • Agrichemicals including containers with residues

Outdoor burning of these materials is prohibited by the regional plan because burning increases their capacity to produce harmful contaminants that may cause serious health effects in people and animals, such as cancers, respiratory diseases and birth defects.