Federated Farmers urges members not to get caught out by outdoor burning rules over winter.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council regulates burning under its air quality plan, and has already issued 47 infringement notices and two prosecutions this winter.

With the winter burning season lasting from May 1 to August 31, Federated Farmers hopes that no farmers or growers will face enforcement action from the council.

The burning rules cover areas called airsheds around Napier and Hastings. The Napier airshed includes Jervoistown, Meeanee and Poraiti, as well as the city. The Hastings airshed encompasses the rural areas of Twyford, Karamu, Mangateretere and the land between the Tukituki and Clive river mouths.

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Horticulture properties in these airsheds can burn diseased plants, and old trees or vines that have been ripped out if the site is being redeveloped.

Keep an eye on the wind strength and direction, and make sure it doesn't drift smoke over town or roads.

The airshed rules say you are not allowed to throw grass clippings, rubbish, orchard bins or prunings onto a fire.

The regional council advises everyone in the entire region that burning should be avoided on calm days, because smoke gets trapped by the inversion layer of cold air.

But then burning should also be avoided on windy days to prevent smoke nuisance or fire hazard.

This leaves farmers waiting for perfect, not-too-windy and not-too-still conditions before striking a match.

The district councils seem to be starting their summer fire bans earlier every year, limiting any burning to the spring and autumn shoulder seasons.

My own farm has a macrocarpa shelterbelt at the end of its life that we'd like to take down before it falls down. We'll probably have a lifetime supply of firewood but there will also be a lot of slash left over that needs to be disposed of.

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I don't like that we'll have piles of it hanging around while we wait for the generous gap between rules that the councils allow for burning, and the perfect atmospheric conditions.

We'll just have to make sure the vermin don't move in and call it home.

• Rhea Dasent is a regional policy adviser for Federated Farmers