SCRAP group changes tack
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