New rules have been announced today for how Aucklanders can use their indoor fires.
Mayor Phil Goff and councillors approved a new bylaw that sets out the rules, which take effect in a week's time.
Under the new bylaw, open indoor fires and current wood burners can still be used.
But once the new bylaw takes effect any new wood burner installed in an Auckland home must meet the regional standards in the new bylaw, in addition to the criteria for new wood burners.
These are specified in the national wood burner standards set by the Government through the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.
The bylaw also bans some materials from being burned in indoor fires, to minimise smoke and contaminants being released into the air.
These materials are wet wood, wood and wood products that are painted, wood that is tanalised or treated, household rubbish, green waste or fuel with a high sulphur content, such as high-sulphur coal.
In a media release this afternoon, it was explained that the Air Quality Bylaw for Indoor Domestic Fires was to re-establish rules for indoor fires that were in the now expired former Auckland Council Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water.
Rules needed 'to maintain good air quality'
Council social policy and bylaws manager Mike Sinclair said the city's air quality was affected by pollution from several sources, including indoor fires.
It was the council's responsibility to make sure national air quality standards established by the Government were met, Sinclair said.
"With the bylaw now approved we are in a better position to help educate Aucklanders about what should and should not be burned in their home fires to minimise harm to their own health, and the health of the environment."
The bylaw was not as restrictive as one proposed three years ago, which suggested phasing out certain types of indoor fires.
"Back in 2014, Auckland had succumbed to several back-to-back still winters, meaning that pollutants sat lower over the region for longer, thus lowering our air quality. Winters since 2014 have not been as still and air quality has improved as a result.
"We no longer have the environmental factors demanding the strict rules for indoor fires that were suggested in 2014, but we do need some rules in order to maintain good air quality and keep building on the improvements in recent years."
For anyone considering a new indoor fire this winter, the most environmentally-friendly types are gas fireplaces, enclosed wood burners that meet the national wood burner standards or other types of solid-fuel indoor fireplaces that meet emission standards in the draft bylaw, such as pellet burners, Sinclair said.
Consultation on the bylaw took place this year and 51 submissions were received, along with feedback from 13 local boards.