Blanket bank fears log burner ban

Christchurch's only blanket bank fears a crackdown on non-complying wood burners will leave people out in the cold.

New Brighton Project's blanket bank, which supplies welfare agencies around the city, is already running low on duvets and blankets.

Environment Canterbury is targeting non-compliant wood burners this winter with fines of $300 to $1000 possible for people using non-complying fires.

NBP co-ordinator Martha Baxendell said its shelves were just about bare of warm blankets and duvets.

"People just want to keep warm and will burn anything which helps them to achieve this. Now they are saying, do I risk it?" she said.

The project's stock of warm supplies was already depleted from the flooding last month, and it relied on donations.

"The needs have changed since last year - we now have a new group who need our help," Baxendell said.

"People are staying in houses which have sub- standard heating while their homes get earthquake repairs and are now too scared to use burners in the house," she said.

"The price of electricity has gone up and so has the price of food - it's not great out there."

ECan said that people with financial difficulties, problems as a result of the floods and people still waiting for earthquake repairs might be exempt from its crackdown.

Baxendell said the full cost of replacing wood burners should be met by ECan.

"If they are going to do this they need to offer real financial help for people," she said.

ECan monitoring and compliance manager Marty Mortiaux said it could not offer the same financial help it had in the past because it had not levied rates for that purpose this year.

ECan director of air Katherine Trought said more than $46 million had been spent in the 2002-11 Christchurch Clean Heat Project, which helped more than 19,000 households insulate their homes and convert to cleaner forms of heating.

"Currently within Christchurch there is a subsidy available of $1000 for households to replace an older wood burner with a heat pump. This subsidy can be accessed through Community Energy Action."

Kaiapoi had a subsidy available for replacing a wood burner with a heat pump until recently but there had been limited uptake. "This subsidy programme is currently being reviewed."

Those with community services cards could also apply for house insulation through Community Energy Action, she said.

The Press