Auckland’s current rules on domestic fireplaces and woodburners

Auckland Council is responsible for ensuring the region’s outdoor air is clean and healthy. The Resource Management (2004 National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) require us to manage air quality to protect people's health.

All new woodburners installed in urban areas (on sites two hectares or less in area) have to meet emission and efficiency standards set by the 2004 National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. Those standards have applied to all woodburners installed in New Zealand’s urban areas since September 2005.

Besides the national rules, the Auckland Council’s Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water includes restrictions on installing some open fireplaces in urban areas and on the type and use of fuel that can be burnt in domestic fires.

Do not burn:

  • anything that produces offensive or objectionable smoke in neighbouring properties
  • wood with a moisture content greater than 25 per cent (by dry weight)
  • wood that is:
    • painted
    • tanalised
    • treated with preservatives or impregnated with chemicals (e.g. treated building materials) as these generate toxic substances when burnt.
  • rubbish or green waste in your domestic fireplace.

If you burn coal, it must be low sulphur coal (0.5 per cent or less by weight).
Burn dry, aged firewood rather than coal, as burning coal produces:

  • more smoke and odour
  • 2-4 times more particulates than burning wood.

Find out more about good burning practice (PDF 1.93MB) and other air quality issues.

For more information on the type of fuel that you should not burn in a domestic fire, see the Auckland Council Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water Plan, Part 2 – Chapter 4, Prohibited Activities Clauses 4.5.8 – 4.5.10 (PDF 385KB).

Find out more about the consent requirements for installing a fireplace.

Auckland Council contacts for further information:

  • Social Policy and Bylaws Unit, Community and Social Planning Department
  • Chief Sustainability Office, Auckland Plan Strategy and Research

Phone 09 301 0101 or email the Air Quality team.

Auckland Council is consulting on its draft Air Quality Bylaw for Indoor Domestic Fires. If you would like to find out more, see Bylaws under review.

    In 2014, we considered a draft air quality bylaw which would have prohibited the use of open fireplaces and pre-2005 woodburners in Auckland from 2018, with other restrictions applying from 2015. The draft bylaw was not adopted at that point, so this coming winter (2016) Aucklanders can continue to use open fireplaces and woodburners of any age.

    Auckland Council is continuing to work on addressing air quality issues and is currently identifying ways of improving the city’s air quality. If we decide to include bylaw regulations in our future air quality measures, the Auckland community will have their say through a public submission and hearings process.

    See, the Report to the Regulatory and Bylaws Committee on 3 June 2015 - the related presentation (PDF 758KB) and minutes (PDF 103KB).

    Particulates are tiny particles that are suspended in the air but are invisible to the human eye. They can be produced from natural sources such as pollen and sea spray, as well as from human sources such as vehicle emissions, industrial activities and indoor home heating fires.

    PM10 particulates:

    • are less than 10 micrometres in diameter, about one fifth the width of a human hair
    • can easily be inhaled and can become trapped in people’s lungs
    • can stay suspended in the air for over a month and can affect visibility by creating a haze over large areas.

    There are national environmental standards for PM10 under the 2004 National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.
    Auckland also has regional targets for PM2.5 (particulates that are less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter).

    Central government is currently reviewing the national standards for particulates. There may be a national standard for PM2.5 in the future.

    Particulates (such as PM10) can be inhaled easily and penetrate deeply into the respiratory system. They can lodge in the lungs and affect your health, especially if you are asthmatic or have heart or lung disease.

    These fine particles can reduce lung function leading to premature deaths and contribute to heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases. PM10 particulates can also carry carcinogenic materials into the lungs.

    For Auckland, the social costs caused by emissions are estimated to be at least $624 million per year. The impacts include an estimated:

    • 190,000 reduced activity days, where people may not be well enough to work or take part in recreational activities
    • 300 premature deaths per year because of the side effects of inhaling these fine particulates over time.

    Older people and young people are most vulnerable to health impacts from PM10.

    Our Retrofit Your Home assists Auckland homeowners and landlords to install insulation and clean heating alternatives by providing a loan of up to $5000 which is repaid by a targeted rate on that property.

    Central government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme provides a grant (not a loan) to low income households to install ceiling and under-floor insulation. Home owners or tenants may be eligible for this funding if they live in a house built before 2000 and have a community service card. Priority is given to households with children under 17 and adults over 65, especially for those who suffer from respiratory problems.

    It has been estimated that in 2015 there were approximately 100,000 domestic fireplaces and wood burners in use in Auckland:

    • 31,400 complying wood burners that meet the current national air quality standards (mostly installed since 2005)
    • 1200 pellet fires that also meet the current national air quality standards
    • 53,700 wood burners installed before 2005 which do not comply with current air quality standards.
    • 13,700 open fireplaces most of which do not comply with current air quality standards.

    Over the ten-year period up to 2015, approximately 40,800 of Auckland’s open fireplaces and old pre-2005 wood burners have been upgraded to lower emissions home heating options, such as a heat pump, gas heating or a modern wood burner that complies with the national air quality standards.

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