Anger at woodburner rule changes delay

Last updated 12:58 13/03/2014

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Nelson Grey Power is fuming over what it sees as broken election promises on changes to using woodburners.

President Neville Male said its members were feeling let down that the Nelson City Council was going to kick the issue into touch for another year.

At last October's council elections, calls were made to relax the city's rules around the use of woodburners.

Then in December the council decided to review the policy that has seen older woodburners phased out in designated areas to improve the city's air quality.

The council said it would complete the review quickly and hoped to have a clear direction before this winter.

Now a report on options is due to go to the council's planning and regulatory committee on May 8, and its chairman, Brian McGurk, said today that any change to the city's clean air quality plan typically would take a year to get through.

Mr Male said: "That's contrary to what was said during the local body election when these councillors said they would make some changes and it would be given some priority.

"Now they are saying they are waiting on reports. It's the same old story we've heard for two years and we are really disappointed.

"We are asking those councillors who were voted in by Grey Power members, thousands of them, to do something about these regulations, it's not good enough. People are very, very angry and feeling let down."

Grey Power had held a candidates meeting during the election and candidates who were now on the council had indicated they supported changes, he said.

"Now they are pulling back because they are listening to officials at the council who are saying there is no way they can compromise the clean air standards.

"We have argued for some time those standards are based on ridiculously high levels based on overseas situations and not New Zealand's. We don't want to compromise clean air standards, but there must be some middle ground.

"Councillors need to get off the fence and treat this as a matter of urgency."

Mr McGurk acknowledged that during the election he had said changes to the rules around log burners would be a priority.

"I am finding out change does not come quickly," he said today.

A number of options would be covered off in the report due in May, including looking at the list of approved woodburners.

"We are hopeful we can make some progress. We don't want people in cold homes but we don't want to go back to the appalling pollution we had a few years ago," he said.

Experts were doing modelling of the implications of any change to air shed A, which included the Victory, Washington Valley and hospital area, he said.

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If the council decided to alter the woodburner phase-out dates or alter the air shed boundaries, a change to the air quality plan would be required. "Plan changes typically take at least one year to go through the process and the outcome cannot be guaranteed."

It would have to done in addition to a major review of Nelson's regional and city resource management plans already combining the Nelson resource management plan and regional policy statement, he said.

- Nelson

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