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New bylaw for indoor domestic fires

Published: 25 May 2017

Auckland Council’s governing body on 25 May 2017 approved a new bylaw that sets out rules for how Aucklanders can use their indoor domestic fires.

The Air Quality Bylaw for Indoor Domestic Fires takes effect from 1 June 2017 and its purpose is to re-establish the rules for indoor fires that were in the former Auckland Council Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water, which has now expired.

Changes from 1 June 2017

Under the new bylaw, Aucklanders can still use their open indoor fires and their current wood burners.

However, from 1 June 2017 any new wood burner installed in an Auckland home must meet the regional standards in the new bylaw, in addition to the criteria for new wood burners specified in the national wood burner standards set by central government through the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

Also, to minimise smoke and contaminants being released into the air, from 1 June Aucklanders must not burn any of the following materials in their indoor fires: wet wood, wood and wood products that are painted, wood that is tanalised or treated, fuel with a high sulphur content (e.g. high-sulphur coal), household rubbish or green waste.

Improving Auckland's air quality

Mike Sinclair, Manager Social Policy and Bylaws, says the new bylaw will be in place in time for this winter, which creates an opportunity for the council to communicate more effectively with Aucklanders about how they can use their indoor fires responsibly. This will help maintain good air quality across the Auckland region.

“Like the rest of New Zealand, Auckland’s air quality is impacted by air pollution from several sources, including indoor domestic fires. Central government has established national air-quality standards and it is the responsibility of local and regional councils to ensure these are met."

“With the bylaw now approved we are in a better position to help educate Aucklanders about what should and should not be burned in their home fires to minimise harm to their own health, and the health of the environment.”

Changing times

Sinclair explains that the new bylaw is not as restrictive as the one proposed in 2014, which looked to phase out certain types of indoor fires. 

“Back in 2014, Auckland had succumbed to several back-to-back ‘still’ winters, meaning that pollutants sat lower over the region for longer, thus lowering our air quality. Winters since 2014 have not been as still and air quality has improved as a result."

“We no longer have the environmental factors demanding the strict rules for indoor fires that were suggested in 2014, but we do need some rules in order to maintain good air quality and keep building on the improvements in recent years.”

Choose an environmentally-friendly indoor fire

“If you’re looking to install a new indoor fire this winter, the most environmentally friendly types are gas fireplaces, enclosed wood burners that meet the national wood burner standards, or other types of solid-fuel indoor fireplaces that meet the emission standards in the draft bylaw, such as pellet burners,” Sinclair adds.

Auckland Council undertook public consultation on the Draft Air Quality Bylaw for Indoor Domestic Fires from 27 February to 27 March this year, and public hearings were held in April 2017.

A total of 51 public submissions on the draft bylaw were received, along with feedback from 13 local boards.

The bylaw will be available to read on the Auckland Council website from 1 June.