Questions about stubble burning

Introducing a code of practice for the burning of stubble may be more effective than imposing regulations, Environment Canterbury commissioner David Caygill told Ashburton District councillors recently.

Mr Caygill was replying to questions, at a meeting of the council, about air quality when stubble is burned. Cr Russell Ellis asked if the regional council was investigating whether smoke from stubble burning was carcinogenic.

Mr Caygill said Environment Canterbury was concerned about stubble burning but it would be the Canterbury District Health Board which would know more about its impact on human health.

He said he was well aware of complaints about smoke from burn-offs and accepted it was an issue.

''To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure it is the sort of activity to be easily regulated. But common sense and good behaviour will not be enough if it is a health issue.''

Mr Caygill said a code of practice was being developed in the farming sector and he was keen to see this progress.

He also updated the district council on the regional council's stronger enforcement around the use of log burners in Christchurch. There were two issues: whether the appliance was lawful and whether it was being operated appropriately.

Because of Christchurch's topography, the issue was a human health one, Mr Caygill said.

Cr Ellis said it appeared there was one set of rules around air quality for some (owners of log burners) and yet others were being asked to take a common sense approach (farmers burning stubble).

Mr Caygill replied by saying one was established to be a health issue while the other might or might not be.