Auck­land­homes face fire re­stric­tions


About 75,000 Auck­land house­holds will need to be care­ful about how they use their fire­places un­der newly pro­posed burn­ing re­stric­tions.

On Thurs­day Auck­land coun­cil­lors dis­cussed a draft air qual­ity by­law for in­door fires which would ban the burn­ing of wet tim­ber and cer­tain types of coal.

The pro­posed by­law comes af­ter an­other pro­posed by­law that would have banned all do­mes­tic open fire­places was canned in 2015.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s man­ager of so­cial pol­icy and by­laws Michael Sin­clair said the new by­law would not force peo­ple to stop us­ing in­door open fires.

In­stead, if the by­law goes ahead it will pro­hibit burn­ing high-sulphur coal and damp tim­ber that pro­duces a lot of smoke or causes a nui­sance to neigh­bours.

Auck­land has about 58,000 old pre-2005 wood burn­ers in homes and 17,000 open fire­places.

The pro­posal for the by­law comes af­ter a ‘‘reg­u­la­tory gap’’ ap­peared with the cre­ation of Auck­land’s uni­tary plan.

In Thurs­day’s meet­ing coun­cil­lors Wayne Walker and Chris Darby raised the is­sue of pre­ma­ture deaths caused by wood fires and ques­tioned why in­for­ma­tion about that was not go­ing to be in­cluded in the pro­posal.

‘‘These are health is­sues and par­tic­u­larly the el­derly and young are ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble,’’ Darby said.

A re­port given to Auck­land Coun­cil in 2012 said air pol­lu­tion was re­spon­si­ble for 200 pre­ma­ture deaths a year. Mo­tor ve­hi­cles and do­mes­tic fires are con­sid­ered the two largest sources of air pol­lu­tion in Auck­land.

Darby said he didn’t think the by­law went far enough.

‘‘I don’t think it is good enough to have open fires belch­ing stuff into the neigh­bour­hood and killing peo­ple.’’

Coun­cil­lor Chris­tine Fletcher said her prob­lem with the by­law was that it was 35 pages when she said the in­for­ma­tion could have been fit­ted into a sin­gle page.

Sin­clair said the by­law was 35 pages be­cause of the com­pli­cated na­ture of re­defin­ing ur­ban ar­eas be­cause of uni­tary plan changes.

Coun­cil­lor Daniel New­man said re­gard­less of air qual­ity his first pri­or­ity was that peo­ple re­mained warm.

The pro­posed by­law was adopted and will go to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Coun­cil wants the by­law to be in ac­tion by win­ter this year.

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