Some old burners still OK, ECan says
Frustrated homeowners and lobby groups are angry Environment Canterbury is making those with woodburners 15 years or older feel they have to get rid of them - when this is not the case.
They say ECan has targeted its latest campaign on woodburners that are 15 years or older when there is no rule in ECan's air plan regarding this.
Between 6000 and 8000 homes that ECan believes have older-style woodburners are being targeted in its latest campaign.
Enforcement action from ECan will resume this winter - the first time since the earthquakes.
It is part of ECan's bid to meet the Government's requirements of no more than three high pollution days a year by 2016 and no more than one by 2020.
Christchurch Log Burner Action Group spokesman Graham Pownceby said ECan had given the incorrect impression.
"The Christchurch air plan does not prohibit the use of an old burner if the burner is clean enough to pass the [emissions] test," he said.
ECan director of air Katherine Trought said this was correct.
"Older woodburners are considered to be clean air approved and comply with the Canterbury Air Plan if they meet the emissions standard... these woodburners are still able to be used."
She said the current rules "were confusing" but the review of the air plan in June would address this.
"The best way for people who have one of these woodburners to find out if their woodburner meets these standards is for them to call ECan. Our staff will then check our records to determine if the particular woodburner meets the emissions standards."
Homeowners said this was stress they did not need.
Darren Rigden, in Woolston, is still waiting for earthquake repairs and said although ECan had said exceptions would be made, it was an added stress he did not need.
"I just looked at my wife and said that's the last thing we need, ECan on our case. To be honest I just don't have the energy to deal with that," he said.
Gavin Simon, of Belfast, received a letter from ECan which he understood meant he had to get rid of his woodburner because it was older than 15 years - but he said it ran cleanly.
"I just won't let them in the house and I will ask them to prove what they are saying through emission tests," he said.
Association for Independence Research secretary John Hoare said ECan was resorting to "hardball" because of pressure from the Government to meet the 2016 deadline.
"Wellington is calling the shots... we have the strictest rules in the world. Europe are allowed 35 exceedances per year - we are allowed one."
Canterbury University GeoHealth Laboratory director Professor Simon Kingham said people may have to "bite the bullet".
"If we want clean air and we don't want health-related problems, then we may have to bite the bullet and accept woodburners are a main cause," he said.
"In Christchurch upward of 70 per cent [of pollution] does come from woodburners, absolutely. The science has been peer reviewed and is backed up - their [ECan's] science is good."
Data from the health and air pollution in New Zealand study said man-made air pollution caused 1175 premature deaths per year and 607 extra hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac illnesses.
"Domestic fires dominate the health impacts associated with anthropogenic air pollution in every location across New Zealand, except the Auckland region," the report says.