Old home fires can still burn

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by Alexia Johnston

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is softening its approach towards expired woodburner use.

Timaru households facing “difficult circumstances” will get a temporary waiver allowing them to use their expired woodburner next winter.

The announcement comes just days out from the October 31 deadline for consents to be issued to replace older-style woodburners with low-emission models.

Consents issued after October 31 will only be for ultra-low-emission burners.

Under the Canterbury Air Regional Plan, older-style woodburners aged 15 years and over must be replaced on properties under 2ha in the Timaru Clean Air Zone.

People who meet the requirements for a temporary waiver will have to upgrade to an ultra-low-emission burner if they want to keep burning wood after next winter.

“In Timaru, we have been working hard to make sure everyone can stay warm next winter.” – ECan air quality director Katherine Trought

ECan air quality director Katherine Trought said allowing temporary waivers in exceptional circumstances was not a new approach for ECan.

Some temporary waivers had been given after earthquakes and floods in other parts of Canterbury, for example.

“In Timaru, we have been working hard to make sure everyone can stay warm next winter.

“We are already in contact with a handful of people who may require a temporary waiver for this reason, but we want to let others know it is a possibility, too.”

Mrs Trought said a temporary waiver would apply only after a face-to-face meeting with one of ECan’s home heating officers, and was subject to the household agreeing to burn smoke-free in the meantime.

Temporary waivers will be reviewed after winter next year and will be terminated if the household does not comply with the no-visible-smoke rule.

To qualify for a temporary waiver, a household would need to demonstrate one or more of the following: financial difficulty (where a subsidy is not sufficient or appropriate); extenuating circumstances (for example, those with health issues or some elderly people); and/or intent to buy an ultra-low-emission woodburner model that is not yet available (for example, an insert model).

Any homeowner or tenant struggling with replacing their woodburner should contact ECan’s customer services on 0800-329-276 for an initial assessment to see if they qualify for a temporary waiver.