Some people have asked me why I stridently fight for a complete ban on wood burners and burning off and there are mainly two reasons:
1. It is the right, moral thing to do.
John Stuart Mill centuries ago wrote: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”.
That’s why governments should never pass a law to say eat your vegetables, but it also says that is why governments should pass laws to ban burning off and ban wood burners. They do do harm to others. Wood smoke is toxic. Plain and simple. It is also completely avoidable.
2. I have been hurt by smoke before. And that is certainly true and on more than one occasion.
This is why it’s time to remember Jill.
In Dec 2008 I rented a cottage, Stable Lodge, on Jill Wild’s farm. It is at 405 Grays Road, Pauatahanui. And this is a warning to any who might try to do the same. I lasted 10 days. Within that time she burnt off 3 times just metres from the cottage I was renting. The first time I thought I’d lucked out and it was an annual burn, which is still a god-awful thing to do to people, but once a year maybe, just maybe I can keep my trap shut and it’s only an hour or so once a year.
Next she was burning off again one evening, so I gave her a call and asked her what she was doing and she went ape-shit telling me not to question how she runs her farm. I told her it annoyed me and she indeed didn’t know what the hell she was doing.
And then the 3rd time I woke up to my little cottage full of smoke at 7.30am in the morning. This time she was just doing it to piss me off. Here is a picture of what she was doing:
Yep burning green conifer cuttings straight from the tree. For the 3rd time in the week. And this was how much smoke there was from the front step of the cottage:
and here it shows it again. The building is the stable. The horses were getting poisoned too:
I formally complained to the Porirua City Council. Since it was within 1km of a DOC reserve it was within DOCs jurisdiction. Neither Jill Wild nor her husband, Colin Norris had a permit to burn off. They caused nuisance. They burnt green stuff maximising the smoke and nuisance. So what did the Waikanae office of DOC do? Did it fine them for burning off without a permit? Did it fine them for burning off green wood? Nope, it gave them a permit.
DOC don’t get to police the 1km rule any more. The law has changed. I know they didn’t want to deal with my complaint properly. The permits now would be back to Porirua Council. The GWRC pollution hotline could probably be called if Jill was at it again. And other residents of Grays Road, every time she burns, ring the 24 hour pollution hotline number 0800 496 734.
It is those kinds of acts of bastardry like Jill and Colin’s that makes me resolute in my call for a ban on all burning off. There are victims when someone burns off. Complaints aren’t things that are just a bit of a paperwork problem. If someone takes the time to complain it is a problem. If it is a problem fix it. If someone is burning illegally prosecute them and fine them. If someone is acting within the law and gets a permit and still causes a nuisance revoke the permit.
If someone burns plastic custodial sentences might be appropriate.
If someone lets a cottage and then poisons their tenants with woodsmoke they should be up on assault charges. A large fine and a custodial sentence would have been more appropriate than giving them a permit to keep on doing what they were already doing. And let’s face it the cottage should not be allowed to be rented, after they treated me, their tenant, with such contempt. Jill and Colin are unfit to be landlords and lets face it, they’re not very nice people at all.