Regional council warns on fires
Central Otago residents emitting obnoxious smoke from their fires and causing ill-health to their neighbours can expect warnings and possible fines by Otago Regional Council staff this winter. ORC director regional services Jeff Donaldson said staff would be keeping a closer eye on emissions from residential addresses and they would be travelling around the region checking for smoky fires. Residents with fires that were not up to standard would receive a warning letter asking them to improve what they were burning and could face a $300 fine. A 2011 Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand report found pollution killed an average of four people every year in Alexandra, two in Cromwell and 20 in Dunedin. It also said children under 5 living in Alexandra, Cromwell, Clyde and Arrowtown were twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with a respiratory illness compared to children in Wanaka, Queenstown, Kingston or Hawea. Central Otago topped the list of the worst polluters in New Zealand and up to 60 per cent of the region’s air pollution was caused by unclean heating, such as open fires and multifuel burners. Council air pollution monitoring reports show Alexandra has breached the National Environmental Standard (NES) daily average air pollution threshold of 50 micrograms per cubic metre four times this year and Cromwell and Clyde had both exceeded it once. Under the council’s Otago Air Plan, pollution levels (PM10) should not exceed the NES more than once a year from this year.
Hanging around: Smog over Clyde and Alexandra seen from the Clyde lookout two years ago.