Letter to the editor
Posted at 8:59pm Monday 05 Nov, 2018 | By Rodney Elliott
Rodney Elliott questions "stone age farming methods"
On reading the latest Scuttlebutt an article caught my eye. ‘Breathe Easy'. 'We are thrilled to be supporting the fresh air project.' 'Protect the Environment.' 'Help protect our children'.
Pretty stirring stuff, huh? Wow, the Council is onto it.
I take another sip of tea. As I look out my window to the South from Lake Hawea (Friday 26 oct), 7/10 of my view is multicolumns of dense smoke rising and filling the whole valley in a smoky haze. I understand a permit is needed and issued by QLDC before you are allowed to cause this much pollution.
These fires have been burning for days and probably days to come, burning green slash left over from recent logging. It has been nurtured and fed even through 12 hours of heavy rain. (I thought QLDC discouraged burning wet firewood). Could not this slash have been mulched and used as fertilizer instead of applying more phosphates? Could Dr Compost possibly lend a helping hand here?
Every year QLDC issues permits for burnoffs which pollute the sky for days, sometimes weeks. A visible and real contribution to greenhouse gases and atmospheric warming. It is not unusual for these fires to get out of control. Is there a penalty for this?
Why does QLDC continue to support what appears to me to be stone age farming methods. While I understand the article in Scuttlebutt referred to smoking outside of cafes, should not the same courtesy apply to thousands of citizens and ratepayers living in this valley?
Why should I have to breathe other people's smoke? After all, cafe patrons can get up and leave if they are offended by smoke. We of course cannot.
Last week, Queenstown Airport was on alert because of smoke pollution. I hope the Captain remembered to say. ‘Welcome to clean, green Queenstown.'
Queenstown Lakes District Council responds:
It's great to receive feedback on our Scuttlebutt article and get people talking about the Fresh Air Project.
QLDC does not issue or manage burn-off permits. Until July of this year this was run by the Otago Rural Fire Authority but now sits with FENZ (Fire and Emergency NZ).
With regards to air/smoke pollution, we'd recommend getting in touch with Otago Regional Council as this sits under their authority.
Otago Regional Council responds:
Martin King, ORC manager environmental services said, “The ORC is currently looking into these incidents. No breach in the Regional Air Plan has been located thus far, but ongoing monitoring of this area will continue.”