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2 Prohibited activity standards

The regulations state that regional councils and unitary authorities must enforce the six bans that came into effect on 8 October 2004. The regulations further state that after 1 September 2006 regional councils must enforce the ban on incinerators at schools and hospitals.2

2.1 Identified breaches

Councils did not identify any breaches of the ban on new high-temperature hazardous waste incinerators. Identified breaches for other prohibited activity standards are summarised in table 2.

Table 2: Identified breaches of the prohibited activity standards

Council Open fires at landfill Open burning of tyres Burning of bitumen Burning of coated wire Open burning of oil
Auckland          
Bay of Plenty   tick   tick  
Canterbury   tick   tick3  
Gisborne   tick      
Hawke’s Bay       tick  
Horizons   tick   tick  
Marlborough   tick   tick tick
Nelson          
Northland   tick   tick  
Otago          
Southland tick tick tick tick  
Taranaki tick tick      
Tasman   tick      
Waikato       tick  
Wellington   tick   tick  
West Coast   tick      

2.2 Enforcement

Environment Bay of Plenty and Environment Southland indicated breaches of the prohibited activity standards in their regions but reported no enforcement action. The remainder of the councils issued 18 abatement notices and 81 infringement notices, and carried out two prosecutions. The West Coast Regional Council was unique in using written formal warnings only.

2.3 Resource consents for school and hospital incinerators

In 2004, the Ministry provided clear guidance encouraging schools to cease using incineration for waste disposal. In 2006, the Ministry of Education undertook an assessment of all schools in relation to best practice for waste management. Following this assessment a number of schools applied for consent for incinerators. The majority of these schools were located in rural areas with limited waste disposal alternatives.

The review shows that 10 councils granted consent for 71 school incinerators (table 3).

Table 3: Consents for school incinerators granted before 1 September 2006

Council School incinerators
Auckland
Bay of Plenty 4
Canterbury 1
Gisborne 8
Hawke’s Bay 13
Horizons 16
Marlborough 1
Nelson
Northland 11
Otago
Southland
Taranaki
Tasman
Waikato 13
Wellington
West Coast 1
Total 68

Although conditions and operations varied, a number of the school incinerators were little more than open drums. From this limited review, Northland Regional Council appears to be the only council to have physically inspected all incinerators since granting consent. Northland also limited the consent period for these incinerators to three to five years and indicated to applicants that renewal was unlikely.

2.4 Review of implementation

Overall, implementation of the prohibited activity standards is very good. This may be mainly due to the existing provisions of regional plans that largely duplicate the regulation requirements. Councils identified few barriers to implementation, and the majority felt that nothing further was needed from the Ministry to assist with effective enforcement.

The majority of councils were of the view that the prohibited activity standards are effective, and the Ministry supports this view. Gisborne District Council’s response to a query about the effectiveness of the prohibited activity standards was illuminating:

Yes. Particularly for coated wire – we used to have an auto dismantler who used to do this in town in a 44 gallon drum. Every few months we used to get called out – since the NES came into force we’ve issued 1 abatement notice and he’s stopped doing it. We also pointed out that it was now a national regulation and that we had stronger regulatory powers to prosecute.

It is, however, notable that a number of schools continue to incinerate waste in poor combustion conditions.

 


2  Unless resource consent is provided before this date.

3  A potential breach that is currently being investigated.