Lobby pitches retrofit burner proposal
A residents lobby group opposed to controversial wood burner rules has outlined its position to a pair a government ministers as the campaign for change intensifies.
The South Canterbury Regional Air Plan Liaison Committee has written to the Local Government Minsiter Anne Tolley and Environment Minister Nick Smith asking for advice and assistance. It has also written to Environment Canterbury members, outling its concerns about what it calls a ‘‘flawed’’ section of the Canterbury Air Regional Plan .
The opposes the rule which says burners 15 years or older cannot be used and which requires owners still wanting a burner to replace them with low emission types. Householders wanting to replace their old burners have until October 31 to apply for building consent to replace them with a low emission one.
After that date, they will have to replace them with potentially more costly ultra-low emission types.
Group chairman Mark Rogers confirmed the group had written to the ministers and councillors. It hoped to hear directly from the decision makers, rather than those tasked with enforcing a plan developed when ECan was not an elected body.
At the same time, National Party Rangitata candidate Andrew Falloon was arranging a time for Smith to visit Timaru to attend a public meeting on the clean air rules.
The group remained of the view that the council did not have the atatutory power to require people to replace a heater, say what sort must be installed ior requier any burner not be used. That needed to be considered by the politicians, he said
The group, which was formed last month, has heard of people worried they will suffer undue hardship if they had to replace burners they consider perfectly clean burning.
Many people remained sure the way forward was to allow properly qualified people to retrofit old burners to make them clean air compliant.
Ecan maintains this is neither cost effective or practical, and remains outside the scope and intent of the clean air plan rule.
But group member Doug Cleveland said such work ought to be possible without costly work and without the need to test each burner, as Ecan has previously maintained.
Group secretary Tom, O’Connor said the group will ask ECan to consider allowing retrofits as a discretionary activity requiring a resource consent and inspection. That would maintain thepush for clean air while helping people avoid potentially significant cost, he said.
O’Connopr said the committee continued to doubt the significance of the contribution wood burning home heaters had to air
pollution in Timaru. However, it was clear the air needed to be cleaner.
ECan air portfolio director Katherine Trought said it remained the council’s position that retrofitting burners was not possible under the air plan rules.
ECan remained ready to meet the liaison committee, to further explore its position and the information it had to demonstrate its views.
The council continued to have constructive talks with burner retailers, she said.
South Canterbury Regional Air Plan Liaison Committee members Tom O’Connor, Mark Rogers and Doug Cleveland want politicians to become involved in the wood burner discussion.