This photograph just sent to BayBuzz at 11am Thursday, 11th June.

The location is Middle Road at Gilpin, just outside Havelock North.

Some farmer/grower apparently thinks it’s totally acceptable to spew noxious smoke over a wide swath of his neighbours.

But as the person sending the photo (to BayBuzz and several public officials) says:

“It is appalling.

It is uncomfortable; it stinks, my eyes itch, it certainly won’t be healthy.

It is not what “Clean Green” Hawke’s Bay is trying to portray

In this day and age, it is not at all necessary; there are plenty of alternatives

It is not an exception; it is a norm at this time of year – how is that allowed?

I want your assurance that you will have this nonsense stopped and look forward to  receiving your commitment to doing that.

If the law allows for it; change the law.  NOW.”

Editor’s Note: The day after we published this photo on the BayBuzz website and Facebook page, the HB Regional Council put out this media release, the guts of which is right here:

“Regional Councillor and orchardist Jerf van Beek says air should be safe for everyone to breathe all year round.

“Cold weather makes air quality worse. Before people burn anything outdoors we want them to think about their neighbours and community – fires shouldn’t be a nuisance to people around you,” says Jerf.

Outdoor burning isn’t permitted between May and August if your property falls within the Napier or Hastings airsheds says Jerf. Airsheds are designated air quality management areas.

“We check people are sticking to the rules with our Pollution Response team. The team responds to calls through our hotline – 0800 108 838 – and if people are found flouting the rules they can be fined up to $1,000 or prosecuted for more serious offences.”

An orchardist or any other burner saying today that they ‘don’t know the rules’ or don’t have better options is inexcusable — either wilfully ignorant or just doesn’t give a s**t.

My view is that this situation won’t change until an offending burner is burned, not just with the top fine, but prosecuted and publicly shamed. I’ve got nearly 5000 people on Facebook waiting HBRC!

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  1. Oh I agree. Surely we have moved beyond this. We aren5 allowed open fires in our houses, and that’s burning clean dry wood, it’s crazy that we can burn thousands of wet apple trees a day and it’s ok.
    We have Put so much effort into tidying up our water ways, let’s put the same effort into looking after the air we breath

  2. Only dry wood should be burnt within the Borough if you live outside this into the Rural what other options do you have I can tell you with several rate paying acres we have .None.It seems to me that the fires smoke has drifted the wrong way.Were not going to run out of clean air I think smoke is the least of our worries thats in the air smoke dissapates.

  3. This burning has been happening over several days following QB weekend. On Weds there was a huge burnoff between St Georges and St Andrews Rd that drifted over the eastern part of Hastings. It lasted for hours and did not dissipate and we did run out of fresh clean air. As a bad asthmatic it the burn offs have kept me indoors for days and could be life threatening to me and others like me. There are other options – a mulching machine would make short work of orchard prunings.

  4. I agree that burning should be better controlled. Smoke is a real health hazard, and our health is more important than the convenience of rural land owners. I understand that the nuisance smoke provisions of the law still apply in rural areas, though I’ve seen no evidence that the Regional Council will pursue rural landowners, even when thousands of people are affected by the smoke from a fire.

  5. Irresponsible operators are spoiling things for those that do play by the rules and are choking our citizens in the process. That is simply unacceptable. The rules are ok, enforcement is what is sorely lacking.

  6. re: Xan Harding’s statement (that irresponsible operators……. (don’t) “play by the rules” – defined at the link below) the question ought to be “how right is it in 2020 one landowner can still (legally) pollute, impacting so adversely on regional air quality as well as the lives of thousands of others in close proximity”. Burning is completely out of step with heightened societal attitudes re care of the environment. In this context, HBRC needs to urgently re-align its current approach.

  7. I saw 3 lifestyler fires in St Georges Rd today. It’s a terrible day to burn and illegal without a permit. Burning is still a better option than chipping in terms of CO2 footprint but you need dry wood and the right weather conditions. None of the fires I’ve seen lately meet anything remotely like responsible burning. Fires are not the enemy – smoke is. It’s quite possible to have very little of it and heading upwards.

  8. This will become a bigger and bigger issue in years to come, as people are becoming fed up with foul air hanging around for days during spells of little or no wind to blow smoke away. I question the assertion of Paul Paynter that burning is till better than chipping in regards to the CO2 footprint – has he got any data in support? Also, in many (or should that be most) cases, the wood being burnt is perfectly suitable for firewood – why is that not looked at as an option? Particularly for woodlots that have been harvested or felled shelterbelts. There’s one example of a felled shelterbelt between Hastings and Clive where I’ve been absolutely horrified at the quantities of perfectly good logs, eminently suitable for firewood, being stacked into huge piles ready for burning. Why? On a personal note, I’ve had a shelter belt on my property felled last year, and the contractor left a large slash pile behind which I’ve taken several years of firewood from, and with the help of a friend, continue to do so. I’ve also decided that once this is finished, I will not burn the pile, but will allow it to decompose naturally, and will hide it with native plantings in the next year or so. We can do better – we must do better.

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