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New guidance coming on crop burning

16 Dec 2019

Better guidelines on burning crop residue are being developed, following a number of concerns in the Waimate area.

Crop burning concerns

Crop residue burning (also known as stubble burning) plays an important role in New Zealand’s cropping systems.

Our South Canterbury Operations Manager, Judith Earl-Goulet, said that while the activity is permitted in Waimate under the Canterbury Air Regional Plan (CARP), it does regularly cause concern amongst members of the public.

Reports of ‘out of control’ fires and concerns about smoke, ash and visibility, are common through the late summer.

While the fires are generally well-controlled, and this is a permitted activity under the regional plan, there can be a substantial impact in our community, and greater awareness of the far-reaching impact of ash and smoke effects beyond the site of burning would be useful.

Developing crop burning guidelines

A meeting to discuss these issues was recently held between representatives from Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), Federated Farmers, Timaru and Waimate District Council, the Foundation of Arable Research and Environment Canterbury.

It highlighted that while the Foundation of Arable Research provides a practical code of good management practice for its member farmers, such as having a FENZ permit and smoke management plan, there were opportunities for the provision of more, far-reaching information.

This would be provided to both those who undertake crop residue burning and those impacted by it, to address frequent misunderstandings about what is or is not acceptable.

Judith Earl-Goulet said that this summer, the agencies will work together to upskill and inform both groups in the practice and management of crop residue burning.

“We are taking the community’s concerns seriously and will be looking at increased, proactive communication ahead of the season, and exploring monitoring options to understand localised effects and patterns of smoke and ash distributions,” she said.

Where crop burning is permitted

There are two designated crop residue burning buffer zones in the Canterbury Air Regional Plan. Inside these Ashburton and Timaru buffer zones, anyone wanting to carry out crop residue burning must have a resource consent.

Outside of the buffer zones, including in Waimate, crop residue burning may be carried out, provided a smoke management plan is completed.

View maps of the buffer zones under the Crop Residue Burning tab.


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