A proposed temporary law change would allow landowners to burn mixed waste so they can replant and return to productivity.
Environment Minister David Parker announced a proposed Order in Council under the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act to temporarily allow open-air burning of cyclone and flood waste in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.
If approved, the Order in Council would take effect no later than June 27 and would expire on 15 December.
This comes a month after rules were loosened to allow orchardists to burn prunings under certain strict conditions.
Orchardists and Hawke’s Bay regional councillor Xan Harding had earlier said Orders in Council could be a solution to the persistent issue with the piles of debris on formerly productive land.
Parker said the proposed short-term law change would ensure any such burning is subject to proper management standards, helping avoid the risk of these materials being burned in an uncontrolled way.
“The debris puts growers at risk of missing the June-July growing season, creating further threats to livelihoods already put at risk by severe weather damage,” Parker said.
“Therefore, we propose reclassifying the burning of mixed waste piles from a prohibited to a permitted activity, subject to standards overseen by councils. People will still need to comply with Fire and Emergency New Zealand requirements.”
The permitted activity standards would include steps to separate materials where possible, the timing of the burn, weather conditions, preparation of a fire management plan, notification of parties (e.g. fire services and public health), appropriate disposal of remaining waste material and ash, and site testing and remediation if required.
“I believe these standards can manage the risks associated with open-air burning of mixed waste. They are preferable to maintaining the current ban, which risks landowners choosing to burn prohibited items with no controls in place,” Parker said.
Public engagement on the proposal is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 9, and finish on Tuesday, June 13, with information available on the Ministry for the Environment website.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has expressed its support of the proposal in a statement and said staff will work with landowners to help them understand the changes if the temporary law change goes ahead.
Rural property owners with questions about burning can contact the pollution hotline at 0800 108 838.
MP for Tukituki Anna Lorck said a temporary law would “make a real difference” for growers and farmers.
“It will help relieve enormous stress many growers in Hawke’s Bay have been under who are dealing with the cleanup so they can replant and return land to productivity,” Lorck said.
“Getting on with the recovery and allowing growers and farmers to be able to legally burn mixed wasted is the right thing to do as a permitted temporary activity.”
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