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Smoke pollution complaints have increased by nearly 50% over the past 12 months, prompting the Otago Regional Council to remind outdoor burners of Otago’s air plan rules.
In the year to June 1, the council received 355 complaints about outdoor burning — up 47% from the 242 complaints recorded in the preceding 12 months.
The beginning of the open fire season has kept the council’s pollution team busy, responding to complaints of outdoor burning causing offensive or objectionable air pollution for neighbouring properties.
Council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said there were no loopholes when it came to air pollution.
"If your smoke is noxious or dangerous, or is having an offensive or objectionable effect on your neighbours, you must extinguish your fire immediately.
"We understand there’s a need for some rural properties to undertake a controlled burn-off.
"However, if that smoke crosses your property boundary and has a nuisance effect on your neighbours, you will be in breach of Otago’s air plan rules.’’
Ms Sargeant said it was good the council was being notified about non-compliant burn-offs, but it would be even better if property owners picked the most appropriate days to undertake them and minimise air pollution for their neighbours.
"The air plan rules are in place to protect the community from unnecessary health and environmental impacts.’’
She said to avoid smoky burn-offs, people could choose days with a slight breeze to take the smoke away; avoid days where an inversion layer of warm air is present; only burn dry material; and do not burn treated, stained or painted wood, or rubbish of any kind under any circumstances.
The Otago air plan was scheduled to be reviewed in the 2022-23 year, which would be the best opportunity for residents to have their say on what needed to change, she said.