Otago Regional Council closely monitoring outdoor burning

As Dunedin city dries out in the warm temperatures, people need to be more careful about any backyard burning, the Otago Regional Council warns.

The Dunedin City Council had said the city's fire risk was moderate-to-high and conditions at some times could make it more likely for fires to start from accidental causes and spread rapidly.

Regional council director, regional services, Jeff Donaldson said the council was monitoring outdoor burning more closely than usual to ensure smoke nuisance did not increase. Any fires breaching the council's air plan could result in instant fines of $300 being issued and, in more serious cases, prosecution could result.

Since November, the council had received 65 complaints about outdoor burning and, in two instances, the organisation had received a fine. In both cases, they were repeat offenders, he said.

People needed to consider their neighbours and the environment when burning outside, he said. That meant any burning on the ground or in a container outside a building including bonfires, barbecues, campfires, braziers and hangis.

''Burning rubbish causes a nuisance to neighbours and can cause serious air pollution, which can also be toxic.''

In Dunedin, residents were allowed to burn rubbish in their backyard if the fire was more than 50m from any boundary and the smoke was not a nuisance to neighbours.

Barbecues were allowed, as of right, provided the smoke, ash, and smell did not cause a nuisance to neighbours at or beyond a property boundary.

In the city, the council sub-contracted its air plan enforcement to First Security, while the regional council dealt with complaints on the city periphery and the Taieri.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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