Bylaw put on back burner
South Waikato District Council’s proposed Clean Air Bylaw, which has angered local residents, has been shelved for the next elected council to clean up. Journalist Aden Miles, who sat through the emotionally-charged two-day hearing, reports.
South Waikato residents are elated that introduction of a proposed Clean Air Bylaw has been delayed.
The contentious bylaw would have seen residents required to remove and renovate noncompliant heating appliances this year, costing home owners between $3500 and $4500.
The Clean Air Bylaw, which closed its public consultation process on November 9, 2012, proposed restrictions to improve the district’s air quality and comply with national air quality standards by 2016.
Kelson Diffey, who made a verbal submission against the bylaw is pleased with the outcome.
‘‘It is good news to hear,’’ Mr Diffey said.
‘‘I just could not see the town (Tokoroa) being able to comply within the short time given.’’
Mr Diffey said he felt council was trying to rush the bylaw through.
‘‘It was pushed too hard, too fast but I feel good it has been put on hold even though it does seem to be passing the buck.’’
The suggestion to delay any action was raised by Mayor Neil Sinclair during the deliberation last week.
‘‘I don’t believe that the community is behind us in accepting that, at this stage. In terms of our education programme that has been going (it) did not give the traction,’’ he said.
Mr Sinclair did note the drop in emmisions.
‘‘By letting it lie on the table and attacking the wet wood problem doesn’t make a difference. We have dropped down from 33 to 16 (PM10 emissions), can we drop it further?
‘‘I personally believe that we would be fighting for something that they would rebel against and not accept until we can show them the effects,’’ he said.
Mr Sinclair said the bylaw would be picked up by the next council.
‘‘It can be picked up (in) six months time by the next council. But I recognise that the bad part is we are going to lose that funding we got from ( Waikato) Regional Council.’’
That funding is estimated at $150,000 for heating appliance replacement in Tokoroa.
Councillor Brenda Watkins was unaware the council could delay a decision and was stunned at Mr Sinclair’s suggestion.
‘‘ Well, I am actually quite floored by this suggestion,’’ she said.
‘‘We have had all of these submitters, with the bylaw as it stands, my thought was that we’d extend the time, instead of having 2013 we extend it outwards.’’
Questions were also raised about council’s education programme with councillor Adrienne Bell suggesting it should have been better.
‘‘From a communication point of view, if you are trying to change people’s behaviour you need to say ‘if you don’t do this by this then this will happen’ and I don’t think people were given that message. I don’t think we used enough of the resources to get the word out there.’’
Councillor Herman van Rooijen was shocked by those that made submissions blaming local industry.
‘‘My reaction is one of shock,’’ Mr Van Rooijen said.
‘‘Over the last couple of days I have been shocked by the number of people who tried to pass the problem onto industry when we have had all of the information from the experts and people in the know that the problem is actually domestic fires.’’
See further coverage of the twoday hearing on pages 5, 6 and 7