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Machinery use information

A process has been agreed to allow exemptions for contractors and businesses following the ban on use of machinery within the area affected by the Pigeon Valley fire.


Civil Defence Group Controller Roger Ball said he has agreed to allow contractors and some industry groups to use machinery, under strict conditions. Residential users are still discouraged from using machinery or doing things that could generate sparks and lead to a fire.


“We’re conscious of the impact the fire and the machinery ban are having on the region.


“We have worked closely with Fire and Emergency New Zealand representatives to come up with the safest way to manage what is a very delicate situation.


“In some areas, harvesting is about to get underway, and there is other work that needs to be done to enable people to do their jobs, and for businesses to operate.


"So, to allow this work to continue, we’ve met with industry representatives in forestry, farming, horticulture and contracting and developed a process where contractors can apply for an exemption from the machinery ban,” says Mr Ball.


Forestry companies and contractors will be asked to sign a declaration confirming they would follow established operational protocols on using equipment in extreme fire risk conditions.


“These are all operators with established protocols for managing risk in extreme fire conditions. They know what they can do and we are confident they will take the appropriate precautions,” says Mr Ball.


“We would like to thank operators for their co-operation and support for the community during the current emergency.”


Guidelines for activities under Section 91, updated 15/02/2019.


What’s allowed in urban areas (garden hose must be within reach):

  • lawn mowing is permitted in urban residential areas only.
  • Weed eating/brush cutting - only with nylon lines on electric machines. Steel blades are not permitted.
  • Gas barbecues and contained charcoal. These must be at least 3m from vegetation and you must have a garden hose available.
  • Hand garden tools may be used.
  • Welding, gas cutting, grinding is allowed above sealed surfaces/concrete. Wet down area 4m around work site before starting. Patrol for 30 minutes after completion.


What’s allowed in rural areas:

  • Weed eating/brush cutting - only with nylon lines on electric machines. Steel blades are not permitted.
  • Gas barbecues and contained charcoal. These must be at least 3m from vegetation. Pressurised water (ie. a garden hose) must be available on the site.
  • Welding, gas cutting, grinding - if done above sealed or concrete areas or bare earth. Wet down area 4m around the site before starting work. Check the site 30 minutes after work ends. Notify the fire lookout before starting work, 03 548 5613. Patrol for 30 minutes after completion.
  • Boring is allowed only on existing bare earth surfaces. Minimum 1000 litres of water under pressure must be available at all times. Spark arrestors on exhausts.

The following activities are banned in rural areas unless covered by an exemption:

  • Mowing
  • Chainsaw use
  • Forest harvesting
  • Ploughing/seeding
  • Excavation, earthmoving or quarrying
  • Electric fences: must be turned off
  • Vehicles/motorbikes/ATV: not to be parked on grass longer than 100mm, extinguisher or 15-litre backpack sprayer to be carried.

Activities that are not allowed in any areas

  • Petrol powered weed eaters or brush cutters
  • Steel blades on weed eaters or brush cutters
  • Electric fences
  • Ploughing/seeding using rotary hoes
  • Fireworks
  • Open-flame lanterns, Chinese lanterns etc.
  • Parking vehicles on grass longer than 100mm
  • Use of chippers.

Permits will be considered only for organisations covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Businesses wanting to apply for an exemption, should call the Tasman District Council on 03 543 8400 (this applies to businesses in the Nelson area as well).

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