Don't let rubbish or vegetation burn-ups get up your neighbours' noses this spring, says the Northern Regional Council.

Northlanders are being asked to be courteous and follow the rules as people take advantage of warmer weather and stoke up fires in backyards or paddocks.

Roughly a quarter of calls to the council's environmental hotline involved complaints about burning and associated smoke nuisance, said Joe Carr, chairman of the council's environmental management committee.

"However, backyard burning typically increases during spring months in Northland because, as the weather improves, people start to tidy up their properties ahead of the warmer summer months. The recent storm means there's also likely to be even more waste vegetation around this spring than last year," he said.


Being neighbourly is not the only condition on backyard burn-ups. People cannot burn rubber tyres, coated metal wires, treated timber, plastic containers, motor vehicle parts and waste oil, among other products.

Anyone breaching the rules is liable to enforcement action, which can range from $300 to $1000 instant fines, abatement notices and prosecution through the courts.

The rules cover two broad geographical areas; one for those living in the more densely populated Whangarei area and another for the rest of the region.

"People living within the Whangarei city air shed - which is roughly bordered by Maunu, Onerahi, Tikipunga, Springs Flat and Hurupaki - are not supposed to burn waste material unless they get a resource consent or their property is larger than one hectare," Mr Carr said.

Elsewhere, people can have outside fires as long as it does not cause objectionable smoke or odour to neighbours or obscure visibility on public roads. The regional council encourages alternatives, such as composting and mulching vegetation waste.