Environment Minister, David Parker has today announced a proposed temporary law change to enable rural Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti landowners dealing with masses of cyclone and flood debris to burn mixed waste so they can replant and return their land to productivity.
The Minister said the short-term law change would ensure that any such burning is subject to proper management standards, helping avoid the risk of these materials being burned in an uncontrolled way.
“Some farmers and horticulturalists, especially in Hawke’s Bay, are under huge stress dealing with the fallout from the severe weather. Many have huge piles of waste, including materials like treated timber and plastics that are not allowed to be burned,” said Mr Parker.
“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.
“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 proposed Order in Council under the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act would 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 27 June, and would expire on 15 December.
The permitted activity standards accompanying the temporary law change would include:
- Steps to separate materials, where possible
- 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
- Site testing and remediation, if required
The Minister said the Order in Council was now being prepared by officials, who will discuss its application with affected parties including councils. Public engagement on the proposal is scheduled to begin on Friday 9 June and conclude Tuesday 13 June, with information to be made available on the Ministry for the Environment website.
“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,” Minister Parker said.