Woodburner Air Quality Rules in Hawke's Bay

(PR.co.nz) New requirements for home woodburners have been finalised by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, following a long period of public consultation during 2009 on the air quality issues in Hastings and Napier.

The Council is issuing decisions on Air quality Change 2 and Variation 2 today (March 17) which cover new rules for woodburners, open fires and outdoor burning.

A total of 195 submissions were received on the proposed plan change in March 2009 from a range of groups and individuals raising over 1100 individual points. Hearings were held in early November 2009 to consider all submissions.

“There was a great deal of interest in the proposed changes, and as a result of considering the submissions, changes have been made to the rules, “ said Mrs Liz Lambert, Group Manager External Relations.

The plan originally set two airsheds – the Hastings airshed and Napier airshed – that were notified in 2008 (based on research into pollution levels). These are now divided into two Airzones: Airzone 1 generally covers the urban areas of Hastings, Flaxmere, Havelock North, Napier and Taradale; Airzone 2 covers the remaining, largely semi-rural areas surrounding the cities and within the established airsheds.

Phase out dates for non-complying woodburners have been changed to match the new Airzone division. A non-compliant burner is one which exceeds the emission limit of 1.5g/kg of pollutants which is the limit set by the National Environmental Standards and the new air quality regulations.

“Despite confusion to the contrary, wood burners are not totally banned in Hastings and Napier, but from 2014, older models can no longer be used so people will need to install modern, low emission burners or other forms of cleaner heating, which are more efficient at heating and will reduce the amount of smoke in the air in our cities,” said Mrs Lambert.

She says that the Ministry for the Environment maintains an approved list of wood burners that have been tested by a laboratory. The list can be found on the Ministry’s website www.mfe.govt.nz.

The new rules prohibit the use of open fires in central urban areas and prohibit new open fires in both Airzones 1 and 2.Open fires produce more smoke than heat, and are an expensive and inefficient way of heating a home.

New outdoor burning rules apply, requiring resource consents to be obtained before burning starts. This allows exceptions for horticultural burning for disease control or orchard/vineyard development. Outdoor fires for cooking are permitted.

Media Release 17 March 2010 from Hawkes Bay Regional Council.