Posted by: Matthew | May 22, 2010

Burnoff fire makes mockery of permit system

I’m not allowed to say who is doing the burning or where they are doing the burning, according to the NZ police. But the burnoffs I’ve been trying to stop because:

  • they’re too close to my house
  • they burn grass cuttings and green cuttings, which cause too much smoke
  • they do it to annoy me
  • they have brought in trailer loads of material from elsewhere
  • they have black polyethylene tubing on one of their piles

continue, but the Kapiti Coast District Council in all it’s infinite wisdom has sided with the polluters telling me the highly dubious statement that people have a right to burn off.

So far I have got the measliest of concessions out of the KCDC. That the fire has to be more than 40 metres from my fence, and there has to be a wind blowing away from my property.

And I asked the obvious question “well what about people living in the opposite direction?”

The KCDC officer tells me I shouldn’t care about them. (Funnily enough I think the KCDC council officer should care about the air quality and health of those people.)

But their fire permit still says “not allowed to cause smoke and odour nuisance beyond the property boundary.”

Well, without identifying the perpetrators, lets’ examine what is happening right now. It was raining yesterday, so everything was wet. They’re burning cut agapanthus, which is still green, and hopefully not the polyethylene that is still there. There is a light wind pushing the smoke away from me (and I’m hugely grateful for that), but the smoke is copious (because everything is wet and green) and the smoke is hardly leaving the ground. Then it is going through the back fences, and there is a house there, and I do believe they even have small children. They’re not outside playing today, and no one is sitting on the back porch like they sometimes do.

So does that fit into the definition of not causing smoke and odour nuisance beyond the property boundary?

Except for the largest of rural properties (and let’s face it the couple of acres of this property ain’t big) then it is actually near impossible to comply with the conditions of the permit which says odour and smoke nuisance should not be made beyond the property boundary. Burning off in the actual air makes a mockery of the permit system, and it makes a mockery of the KCDC and it’s compliance and monitoring team, who have appeared to have given this permit in error. And who do I get to complain to to say that permit isn’t being complied with? Yep the Compliance and Monitoring team of the KCDC. Since I am alleging incompetency in their team, then there is a conflict of interest in them dealing with it.

Do these people giving out the permits actually know enough about the nature of smoke to actually assess the permit applications on their merits, instead of jumping to their ideological position of “rural people have a right to burnoff”?

At the moment it is high farce, and the neighbours of the polluters are paying a very high cost.


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