1 January 2019 wood burner deadline

What is changing on 1 January 2019?

From 2019, it won’t be possible to get a building consent for a low emission wood burner in Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Rangiora or Kaiapoi clean air zones (on properties measuring under two hectares).  To find out if you are affected, open up this infographic and call us on 0800 329 276 if you are worried.

Woodburner guidelines

Applying for building consents

If your wood burner needs replacing in the next few years and you want to replace it with a low emission wood burner, you need to lodge a building consent with your city or district as soon as possible.  Because 1 January 2019 falls in the middle of the holiday period, we recommend you lodge your consent as soon as possible and no later than 19 December 2018.

This is the next step in our move towards cleaner heating technology and better air quality in Canterbury.  If you were affected by the 31 October 2017 wood burner deadline, an ultra-low emission wood burner is now your only option.

If you miss 1 January 2019 deadline, you can apply for a building consent for an ultra-low emission wood burner but not a low emission wood burner.  Ultra-low emission wood burners are better for air quality and more efficient.

Next steps if you are affected

If you are affected and you want to get a low emission wood burner, you need to lodge a building consent with your city or district council as soon as possible and no later than 19 December 2018.

To do this, contact your preferred retailer to decide on the model you want, then lodge a building consent online or in person at your city or district council. Some retailers will do the paperwork on your behalf.

Frequently asked questions

Does this apply to me?
If you live in Christchurch, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Ashburton or Timaru clean air zones in a property measuring under two hectares (most urban sections), it may affect you.

From 2019, it will not be possible to get a building consent a low emission burner in the clean air zones listed above (on sites less than two hectares – most urban sections). It will only be possible to get a building consent for an ultra-low emission wood burner or to use another form of heating such as a heat pump.

If you have an older-style wood burner that complies with the current rules in your area but will need replacing soon, this is your last chance to replace it with a low emission burner.

If you have an existing low emission burner that complies with the current rules in your area but will need replacing soon, and you want to replace it with another low emission burner, this is your last chance to do so.

We encourage consents to be lodged with your city or district as soon as possible and no later than 19 December 2018. If the deadline is missed, a building consent for an ultra-low emission wood burner could be applied for, or another form of heating such as a heat pump could be installed.

Note: This does not apply in Waimate or Geraldine, or for anyone living outside of a clean air zone, or for anyone living on a property that measures two hectares or more.

I already have a low emission burner – do I need to do anything?
If you have a low emission burner in your home currently, your best option is to wait until it expires (probably at its 15th or 20th birthday, depending on where you live*) and then replace it at that time with an ultra-low emission burner or some other form of clean heating like a heat pump.
New ultra-low emission burner models are coming to market, including ones at lower price points.  They are better for the environment, are more efficient (meaning you save on firewood) and they can be used indefinitely under the current Air Plan.  They cost more to buy but will save you money in the long run.
If you do want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to obtain a new building consent to do this before 1 January 2019.  To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent as soon as possible and no later than 19 December 2018.
*In Timaru, low emission burners can be used until they are 15 or until 1 January 2019 (whichever is later). In Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Ashburton, low emission burners can be used until they are 20 or until 1 January 2019.
What are the rules in Timaru?
In Timaru clean air zone on properties measuring under two hectares, use of an existing low emission wood burner is allowed until it is 15 years old or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later.
If you want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to lodge a consent with Timaru District Council before 1 January 2019.  To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent as soon as possible and no later than 19 December 2018.  However, we encourage you to consider replacement with an ultra-low emission burner, which will burn more efficiently, have no expiry date and be much better for the environment.
If you have an older-style burner that is less than 15 years old, you can replace this with a low emission burner if you get your building consent lodged with Timaru District Council by 1 January 2019 AND before your older-style burner turns 15. You cannot use an older-style burner that is more than 15 years old and you cannot use an open fire. To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent by 19 December 2018.
If you have an ultra-low emission burner, great! Thanks for making the change to a more efficient technology that is better for our health and our environment. These burners have no expiry date under the current Air Plan. You don’t need to take any action.
Remember, all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
Need help? If you are in Timaru, you can come along to a drop-in session on September 5 at Timaru District Council (2 King George Place) from 12.30-1.30pm or 5.30-6.30pm.
Environment Canterbury and Timaru District Council staff will be available to answer questions.  Otherwise, call us on 0800 329 276 for help.
What are the rules in Christchurch?
In Christchurch clean air zone on properties measuring under two hectares, use of an existing low emission burner is allowed until the low emission burner is 20 years old or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later.
If you do want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to lodge a building consent with Christchurch City Council before 1 January 2019. To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent before 19 December 2018.
However, we encourage you to consider waiting until your current burner reaches its 20-year limit and replace it with an ultra-low emission burner, which will burn more efficiently, have no expiry date and be much better for the environment.
If you have an ultra-low emission burner already, great! Thanks for making the change to a more efficient technology that is better for our health and our environment. These burners have no expiry date under the current Air Plan. You don’t need to take any action.
Remember, all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
What are the rules in Kaiapoi?
In Kaiapoi clean air zone on properties measuring under two hectares, the use of an existing low emission burner is allowed until it is 20 years old or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later.
If you do want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to lodge a building consent with Waimakariri District Council before 1 January 2019.  However, we encourage you to consider replacement with an ultra-low emission burner, which will burn more efficiently, have no expiry date and be much better for the environment.
If you have an older-style burner that is less than 15 years old, you can replace this with a low emission burner if you get your building consent lodged with Waimakariri District Council by 1 January 2019 AND before your older-style burner turns 15.  You cannot use an older-style burner that is more than 15 years old and you cannot use an open fire.  To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent by 19 December 2018.
If you have an ultra-low emission burner, great!  Thanks for making the change to a more efficient technology that is better for our health and our environment.  These burners have no expiry date under the current Air Plan.  You don’t need to take any action.
Remember, all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
What are the rules in Rangiora?
In Rangiora clean air zone on properties measuring under two hectares, the use of an existing low emission burner is allowed until it is 20 years old or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later.
If you do want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to lodge a building consent with Waimakariri District Council before 1 January 2019.  However, we encourage you to consider replacement with an ultra-low emission burner, which will burn more efficiently, have no expiry date and be much better for the environment.
If you have an older-style burner that is less than 15 years old, you can replace this with a low emission burner if you get your building consent lodged with Waimakariri District Council by 1 January 2019 AND before your older-style burner turns 15.  You cannot use an older-style burner that is more than 15 years old and you cannot use an open fire.  To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent by 19 December 2018.
If you have an ultra-low emission burner, great! Thanks for making the change to a more efficient technology that is better for our health and our environment. These burners have no expiry date under the current Air Plan. You don’t need to take any action.
Remember, all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
What are the rules in Ashburton?
In Ashburton clean air zone on properties measuring under two hectares, the use of an existing low emission burner is allowed until it is 20 years old or until 1 January 2019, whichever is later.
If you do want to replace your existing low emission burner with another low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to lodge a building consent with Ashburton District Council before 1 January 2019. However, we encourage you to consider replacement with an ultra-low emission burner, which will burn more efficiently, have no expiry date and be much better for the environment.
If you have an older-style burner that is less than 15 years old, you can replace this with a low emission burner if you get your building consent lodged with Ashburton District Council by 1 January 2019 AND before your older-style burner turns 15.  You cannot use an older-style burner that is more than 15 years old and you cannot use an open fire.  To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent by 19 December 2018.
If you have an ultra-low emission burner, great!  Thanks for making the change to a more efficient technology that is better for our health and our environment. These burners have no expiry date under the current Air Plan.  You don’t need to take any action.
Remember, all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept.
What are the rules in Geraldine and Waimate?
The 1 January 2019 date does not affect you. If you want to replace your wood burner, you can do so at any time with a low emission burner or an ultra-low emission burner.
If you have an older-style wood burner, it can be used either until either:
  • The property sells. If your property has been purchased since 25 October 2016, (from when the current Air Plan rules applied from) then you shouldn’t be using your older-style wood burner. When considering a replacement, low emission burners and ultra-low emission burners are options; or
  • 1 January 2020. If you have owned your property since prior to 25 October 2016 (from when the current Air Plan rules applied from), then you can keep using your burner for 2018 and 2019. When considering a replacement, low emission burners and ultra-low emission burners are options.
What are the dates I need to know?
From 1 January 2019 you will not be able to apply for a building consent to replace an existing compliant burner with a low emission burner if you live in Christchurch, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Ashburton or Timaru clean air zones (on a property measuring under two hectares).
Because 1 January 2019 falls in the middle of the holiday period and councils will be closed, we strongly encouraging people to lodge their building consents by no later than 19 December 2018.
You can apply for a building consent to install an ultra-low emission burner at any time.
What if I do nothing and miss the cut-off date?
You can choose to do nothing.  However, after 1 January 2019, when your compliant burner expires (probably at its 15th or 20th birthday, depending on where you live), you will need to replace it with an ultra-low emission burner or some other form of clean heating like a heat pump.  You will not be able to get a building consent for a low emission burner.
If you do want to replace your existing burner with a low emission burner in the near future, then you will need to obtain a new building consent before 1 January 2019. To ensure you meet the deadlines we recommend that you apply for that consent before 19 December 2018.
What is an older-style wood burner?
Older-style burners are generally only common outside of Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Ashburton.  They may have two air flow controls, a grate and ash pan and may be multi-fuel burners.  They can be banked down overnight.  These burners are being phased out in all clean air zones in favour of cleaner heating technology and in Christchurch, they can no longer be used. It is no longer possible to get a building consent for an older-style wood burner in any Canterbury clean air zone.
What is a low emission wood burner?
Low emission burners are the most common burners in Canterbury and have been around since the early 2000s.  These burners burn wood or pellets and will generally have only one air flow control and will not be able to be banked down overnight.  They are being phased out over time in clean air zones in favour of cleaner heating technology (such as heat pumps or ultra-low emission wood burners).  From 2019, it won’t be possible to get a building consent for a low emission wood burner in most clean air zones.
Find out which low emission burners are authorised for installation in Canterbury, subject to home heating measures in your clean air zone.
What is an ultra-low emission wood burner?
Ultra-low emission burners are the cleanest solid fuel burners.  They include wood and pellet burners. Under the current Air Plan, they can be installed and used indefinitely in Canterbury.  Ultra-low emission wood burners are tested using the Canterbury Method 1, which uses strict real-life operating conditions.  These burners must meet an emissions and efficiency standard of 38 milligrams per megajoule of useful energy and have a thermal efficiency of 65% or greater.   You can apply for a building consent to install an ultra-low emission burner in your property at any time.
Find out which low emission burners are authorised for installation in Canterbury, subject to home heating measures in your clean air zone.
Why do the rules for wood burners keep changing?
The consent changes are part of the Canterbury Air Regional Plan, which was developed to help with meeting required targets under the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.
More homes in Canterbury have been moving towards cleaner heating options such as heat pumps or ultra-low emission wood burners, which is good news. Air quality is important for health and wellbeing and we are expecting further gains in this area once the consent changes take effect.
This change follows on from last year’s deadline, where people with older-style wood burners that were older than 15 years at that time needed to lodge a building consent by 31 October 2017 if they wanted to replace it with a low emission burner.
What financial help is available?
We understand replacing old log burners with new, cleaner forms of heating can be costly.  We provide options like low income financial assistance (subsidies) and temporary waivers, and Healthier Homes Canterbury, which launches in September 2018.
The subsidies do differ from district to district, but certain things are common to each area. You or someone in your household (owner or tenant) must have one or more of the following:
  • a current Community Services Card; or
  • combined SuperGold Card and Community Services Card; or
  • just miss out on being eligible for a Community Services Card by $5,000 or less (IRD proof of income required); or
  • receive working for families assistance; or
  • receive a rates rebate for the current financial year; or
  • receive a disability support pension.
Other evidence of financial hardship is considered on a case by case basis. Health referrals in conjunction with demonstrable low income are also useful.

Call us for more information on 0800 329 276.

Who can I talk to about the changes?
  • You can call us on 0800 329 276
  • You can call your city or district council
  • If you are in Timaru, you can come along to a drop-in session on September 5 at Timaru District Council (2 King George Place) from 12.30-1.30pm or 5.30-6.30pm. Environment Canterbury and Timaru District Council staff will be available to answer questions.
How do I lodge a building consent?
Talk to a retailer to decide on the wood burner model you want (and make sure it is one of our authorised models).  Fill out the building consent paperwork provided by your city or district council.  It can often be submitted online or in person.  Some retailers or installers will do the paperwork on your behalf. An application fee is involved, and this varies depending on the city or district council.
How do I know what type of wood burner I have right now?
You can find your wood burner on our list of authorised burners.  You will need to know the authorisation number of your burner.  This can be found on a label on the back of your burner.  Or check your LIM or building consent records with your city or district council.  You can also contact Environment Canterbury if you are having trouble identifying your existing burner.

More information