The Tasman District Council is urging anyone planning an outdoor burn to check the conditions and best practice guidelines first, after a rush of smoky air complaints.

Council Environment and Planning Manager Dennis Bush-King said the Council’s Compliance team had received 81 complaints about air pollution due to outdoor burns in the Waimea Plains and Motueka areas over the past 20 days.

Dennis said the haze had been noticeable across the District, at a time when air quality generally over the lockdown had improved.

“There’s several elements contributing to the smoke pollution we’ve been experiencing recently. Horticulture burns are common at this time year at the end of the season’s pick. But this year that has coincided with the lifting of the Civil Defence COVID-19 fire ban, an increase in property maintenance that people have been carrying out on lifestyle and rural properties throughout the lockdown, and a period of cold settled weather with little wind to disperse smoke.”

Dennis said the Council had issued four infringement fines, six abatement notices and a number of warnings to people with excessively smoky outdoor fires.

“If you’re planning on carrying out a burn you need to follow good practice to ensure it doesn’t become a nuisance and create pollution. Use only dry wood and ensure a good air flow by stacking it loosely. If it’s a particularly cold, calm day it’s not a great time to burn because the smoke won’t rise and disperse.

“If you do have to burn, light your fire after 10am once the temperature has warmed up so the smoke can disperse, and have your fire out by 4pm before the temperature cools for the night. And take a look around before you light – if you can see a haze from other fires in the area don’t make it worse by starting another one.”

Dennis said there were other options such as stock piling green waste to burn during more favourable conditions, mulching, or smaller piles can be disposed of at your local green waste transfer station.”

More tips for good outdoor burning are available at tasman.govt.nz/outdoor-burning.

Don’t forget to visit www.checkitsalright.nz(external link) to check if you need a FENZ fire permit to burn.

To make a smoke complaint, phone (03) 543 8400.