SCRAP group changes tack

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ELENA MCPHEE

A res­i­dents’ com­mit­tee set up to op­pose ECan’s log burner rule has changed tack af­ter telling res­i­dents not to ap­ply for build­ing con­sents - it is now ad­vis­ing peo­ple to com­ply with the Oc­to­ber 31 dead­line.

The South Can­ter­bury Re­gional Air Plan Li­ai­son Com­mit­tee (SCRAP) told res­i­dents in Au­gust not to ap­ply, de­spite En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury mak­ing it clear peo­ple needed to ap­ply for their new burn­ers.

Wood­burn­ers 15-years-old, or older, must be re­placed un­der the re­gion-wide air plan.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Mark Rogers put out a state­ment on Oc­to­ber 11 say­ing he doubted if ECan or the Ti­maru District Coun­cil had ac­cu­rate records of log burn­ers in Ti­maru - but said peo­ple should still ‘‘play it safe’’ un­til the sit­u­a­tion be­came clear.

Rogers said, on Thurs­day, that ear­lier in the year the com­mit­tee had sim­ply ad­vised peo­ple to hold off and see what would hap­pen in the gen­eral elec­tion, but now the sit­u­a­tion had changed.

While the com­mit­tee was ‘‘rea­son­ably op­ti­mistic’’ the con­tro­ver­sial 15-year-ban would even­tu­ally be deleted from ECan’s air plan, which path dis­cus­sions took go­ing for­ward de­pended on who formed the next govern­ment.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Nick Smith has promised a re­view of the Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Stan­dards which un­der­lie the rule in the air plan.

He made the prom­ise at a pub­lic meet­ing in Ti­maru on Septem­ber 19.

Rogers said if the ban was re­placed with a ‘‘grand­fa­ther’’ clause, as Smith had sug­gested, it would mean that older log burn­ers could be re­tained - pro­vided they were op­er­at­ing ef­fi­ciently - then re­placed with a low emis­sion burner when they fi­nally wore out.

‘‘How­ever, we could find our­selves in the bizarre sce­nario where use of older burn­ers is not per­mit­ted for a time, fol­low­ing the 31st Oc­to­ber dead­line, and then be­comes ap­proved again mid-next year, fol­low­ing changes to the NES.’’

Rogers’ state­ment comes af­ter a last-minute plea from ECan for peo­ple to at least take the first steps to­wards get­ting build­ing con­sents.

ECan air qual­ity di­rec­tor Kather­ine Trought said re­plac­ing an ex­pired wood­burner with a lowe­mis­sion fire­place would no longer be an op­tion from Novem­ber on­wards, as build­ing con­sent would not be granted.

‘‘If you take the first step, we will ac­com­mo­date de­lays out­side of your con­trol af­ter Oc­to­ber 31,’’ she said.

‘‘This would ap­ply to those who are still wait­ing on build­ing con­sent ap­proval, wait­ing on a re­tailer to pro­vide a quote, wait­ing on a re­tailer to lodge a con­sent on their be­half, wait­ing on in­stal­la­tion, or wait­ing on the sub­sidy process.

‘‘We are in con­tact with re­tail­ers, En­ergy Smart and the Ti­maru District Coun­cil. If your name is on their wait­ing lists or on their books, we would con­sider this to be a gen­uine step to­wards lodg­ing a build­ing con­sent. You will be treated as though you have met the dead­line and will be el­i­gi­ble for a low emis­sion wood­burner,’’ Trought said.

Peo­ple who did not re­place their wood­burner would still be able to burn wood to heat their homes, but they would need to do so with an ul­tra-low emis­sion wood­burner.

‘‘We will help them to­wards that,’’ Trought said.

Trought said ECan would con­tinue smoke-spot­ting in 2018, but fines were ‘‘un­likely’’. Sub­si­dies of up to $5000 would be avail­able for ul­tra-low emis­sion wood­burn­ers. work

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