Air plan rethink as pollution levels rise

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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Environment Canterbury will phase out the use of currently approved clean-air log burners if it cannot get pollution under control by 2017.

ECan is reviewing its air plan. It has proposed a change that means if it cannot meet the Government's standard of no more than three high-pollution nights a year by 2016, current log burners will have to be phased out in 2017.

At the moment low-emission log burners can be installed in certain parts of the region.

Pellet fires and ultra-low-emission wood burners (ULEBs) will be allowed.

ULEBs are not on the market yet and designers across the country are either optimistic they will be available soon or say they are an impossibility under ECan rules. Under the proposals, low-emission log burners must be replaced after 15 years use by householders, even if they meet the emissions test.

"Clean air zones" will be erased with one zone for all. This means properties on the outskirts of the city, less than two hectares, will have to follow the stricter rules for log burners - including no installation for rebuilds, unless ULEB's hit the market.

The proposals come at a time when Christchurch recorded its seventh high-pollution night at Queen's Birthday weekend. Kaiapoi had four and Timaru nine.

In a bid to meet the deadline, ECan has launched a social media campaign teaching households how to get a "smokeless" chimney.

ECan marketing manager Jo Dawkins said learning "the art" of using log burners was key to getting pollution down.

"We are actively encouraging people to use their log burner smoke free. Any smoke that comes from your chimney is wasted firewood - incomplete combustion . . . it's completely unnecessary. It's really daft to have a smokey chimney . . . we've really lost the art of burning correctly and we want to teach that to people," she said.

Dawkins said the Facebook page would "create a community of log burner users" sharing tips and expertise.

ECan wants public feedback on the proposals in the air plan now.

The air plan will then have "formal consultation" in February with hearings in October and December 2015.

PROPOSED CHANGES

Low-emission burners phased out if targets for 2016 not met.

Ultra-low-emission burner (ULEB) and pellet fires only.

Clean air zones 1 and 2 erased.

One clean air zone meaning strict rules on log burners apply to all.

Multi-lot subdivisions will require a "dust management plan".

Farmers will need an "odour management plan", which will be applied when effluent is stored or discharged to land.

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Outdoor burning at community cultural events will not be permitted in the winter months.

Stubble burning between March and May to continue but ECan doing research to look at health effects.

Higher standard for "offensive and objectionable" smells around residential and commercial areas.

Lower standard in industrial or rural area. 

- The Press

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