ECan tests of burners 'unrealistic'

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014

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Ultra-low emission burners are months, not years, away from getting consent for installation in Christchurch homes, Environment Canterbury (ECan) says. 

This does not mean they will be available to the public straight away. That is up to manufacturers, ECan commissioner David Bedford says.

Testing of four ultra-low emission burners (ULEBs) was under way.

''I'm in a position now where I am more than happy to say that I think it is no longer about years but about months,'' he said.

''If they pass the test they will become approved and consented, then it becomes a question of  how quickly the manufacturers and suppliers can make them available commercially.''

Householders have been waiting on ultra-low emission burners since ECan banned the installation of log burners in new houses or earthquake rebuilds.

Only ULEBs can be installed, but none has passed ECan testing.

The industry is divided on Bedford's claims.

Engineer Brian Anderson, who has been reviewing ECan's testing methods, said it was ''very doubtful'' models would hit the market soon.

He said testing was unrealistic and flawed and ECan lacked transparency.

''This is all about secretive governance which is bedevilling the whole thing. Everything is being decided behind closed doors by anonymous people.

''You are dealing with people who are not qualified to make such a decision and have absolute power to decide in secrecy. You can argue until you are blue in the face that what they are doing is technically wrong, and you won't get anywhere.''

Bedford said ECan could not be held responsible for holding up testing.

''We have always said 'you bring your burner forward and we will listen to you about how it should be tested' .th.th. Unfortunately some of them haven't wanted to do that; they have wanted to have absolute certainty about something before they got in that process.'' 

Design development engineer Paul Sintes said ECan testing was achievable. The problem was whether the burner would be marketable.

''A burner can achieve the standard but it has to be practical, affordable and aesthetically pleasing - you have to want it in your living room,'' he said.

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