Published 2 March 2008
North Shore City Council issued a news release on 27 February saying it was consulting on “a revised bylaw that aims to prevent the spread of fires in the open air”.
In short, it wants to ban open fires that aren’t for cooking and it wants to ban incinerators.
I wondered at the wording of the release. Did it mean fires that leap fences and join forces to create gigantic conflagrations? Or might it mean the sprinkling of many fires, perhaps by an unknown hand?
Whatever. The release continued: “In accordance with the Auckland Regional Council Air Land Water Plan, backyard incinerators are no longer permitted.” The terminology sounded wrong to me, and I doubted that this council had a blanket ban on burning anything in your backyard, all year round.
The North Shore bylaws are a little suspect for their spelling, as well. What hope does a council have of controlling what it seeks to control when it can’t spell the central subject matter? In headings for the fire prevention bylaws, it spells vegetation as vegatation, barbecues as barbeques, permitee for someone seeking a permit.
The release continued: “Otherwise, the revised Fire Prevention Involving Open Air Fires bylaw remains largely unchanged. Backyard barbeques and traditional cooking fires are still allowed – provided they do not create a nuisance.” I could believe North Shore councillors would write something like “provided they do not create a nuisance” after deep & searching thought & prolonged debate, but I still doubted that it would make its way into the wording of a bylaw.
On your behalf, I have consulted the council bylaws and the regional council’s proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Air, Land & Water. The regional plan was notified for public submissions in October 2001 and some parts are still under appeal while there are also variations to it.
You can still burn a fire in your home, but if you replace the fireplace, rules were introduced in 2005 restricting what the replacement can be – and the regional plan prohibits the burning of various toxic wastes in your indoor fireplace.
The regional plan says the regional approach is to prohibit outdoor burning & single-chamber incinerators in the urban area, and the Auckland & Manukau city councils severely restrict outdoor burning. The plan says “barbeques” (yes, the ARC refers to the barbeek too) are OK, bonfires are not. Burning outdoors or in a single-chamber incinerator is either a permitted or restricted discretionary activity, with restrictions on content of the fire, but is prohibited in urban, industrial & coastal marine air quality management areas shown in map series 1.
Map series 1 covers the entire Auckland region, and the urban AQMA, as the management area’s known, seems to cover about half of North Shore City but excludes most of the strip up the east coast. (Memo ARC: You missed out a “which” in rule 4.5.11).
The city bylaw (part 14, fire prevention involving vegatation), says in the conditions for lighting barbeques (14.3): “You must not use or allow the use of any barbecue or traditional cooking fire which causes or is likely to cause a danger to any person or property unless: (a) there is immediately available an emergency water supply or other fire fighting equipment, and (b) there is adequate supervision.” There are design & content specifications for incinerators under the present bylaw (14.6.1), but they’re permitted.
The word “incinerator” has disappeared in the proposed change. The whole of section 14.6, Incinerators, has been removed and the bylaw definition of “open air” excludes the present reference to “an approved incinerator”. Under the proposal, fires in the open air are defined only as barbecues or traditional cooking fires.
The other proposed bylaw change removes “open fire season” from the bylaw terms and is more specific about who to seek permission from. For barbecues, “adequate supervision” has added to it “so that the cooking fire is not left unattended (includes gas fired barbecues)”.
The submission period on the open-fires bylaw review closes on Friday 28 March.
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Attribution: Council release, council bylaw, council proposed bylaw change, ARC air, land & water plan, story written by Bob Dey for The Bob Dey Property Report.