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Orchard and vineyard burning under fire

This is the time of year when Hawke’s Bay Regional Council typically receives many complaints to its Pollution Hotline about orchard and vineyard burn-offs.

The burn-offs are allowed where landowners are redeveloping orchards and vineyards or carrying out disease control. Landowners do however need to consider other people and activities when they are planning and performing a burn-off.

Regional Council Regulation Group Manager Liz Lambert is the backstop for illegal burning practices, with little tolerance for poor or inconsiderate practices.

“Burning is not permitted if it is likely to drift towards built-up urban areas,” says Mrs Lambert.

“Landowners could also consider the impact on public events, such as this weekend’s Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Marathon, where over 5,000 people will be taking deep breaths outdoors on Saturday, with the effects of smoky air on the lungs of participants, their supporters and spectators, as well as the wider community,” adds Mrs Lambert.

The Regional Council’s climate and air quality scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak confirms this and adds, “The key is to make sure any permitted burn-off is only getting rid of dry wood, as dry wood produces a lot less smoke than wet and green material.”

“We also recommend checking the weather before lighting up, for wind speed and direction, not burning on still winter mornings and being especially considerate of neighbours,” adds Dr Kozyniak.

Landowners can refer to the Good Practice Outdoor Burning Guide on the Regional council’s website.

The regional rules that apply to burning can also be checked at hbrc.govt.nz, search: #burning.

The materials which can never be burnt are treated timber or fibreboard, anything plastic, rubber products and tyres, batteries, materials containing bitumen, used or waste oil, insulated electrical cables or coated wire, motor vehicle components, mechanical or electrical equipment, asbestos or radioactive material, and domestic or industrial rubbish.

Anyone who has a problem with smoke from a neighbouring property can call the Regional Council's hotline, which operates 24 hours, every day. If in doubt, call the Pollution Hotline on 0800 108 838.

The Regional Council’s role to regulate air quality is detailed in the Regional Resource Management Plan and guided by the National Environment Standard for Air Quality.


Intense plumes of smoke have previously been traced to piles of prunings. Thick smoke occurs when the wood is not dry, or when the piles also contain other prohibited items that should not be burned.

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