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Restricted Fire season lifted in rural areas - not to be confused with ECan winter ban on open fires

8 May 2007

Fire season restrictions were lifted in all of Christchurch’s rural areas, as of midnight 30 April, under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.

These restrictions should not, however, be confused with the Environment Canterbury (ECan) winter fire ban on lighting outdoor fires in urban and residential areas of the former Christchurch City Council area, (excludes the Banks Peninsula hills) which runs until September. This aims to help improve Christchurch air quality over winter.

Under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977, the City Council as fire authority, imposes a restricted fire season every summer to reduce fire risks in the Bottle Lake Rural Fire District, Chaneys Rural Fire District, and other rural areas in Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula.

As the risk reduces with the approach of winter, the fire season restrictions are lifted in these rural areas. Within the former City Council area, however, the lifting of such fire season restrictions does not over-ride the ECan ban on outdoor fires during winter.

The only exception to this is the rural areas of the former Banks Peninsula district, where the open season means you can burn without a permit during winter. Banks Peninsula residents in residential properties, small settlement or the urban areas, however, must first apply to the City Council for a special dispensation to light outdoor fires. Furthermore, Peninsula residents within one kilometre of a Department of Conservation (DOC) fire safety margin, must apply for a permit to burn from D0C.

According to ECan, it will take a tough stance on enforcement of the outdoor burning this winter with an instant fine of $300 issued for domestic outdoor burning offences and up to $1000 for industrial premises.

If you are confused as to whether you can or cannot light an outdoor fire in your area, phone the City Council on 941 8999.  To report outdoor fires, causing pollution, phone the ECan hotline: 0800 765 588 or (03) 366 4663.

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