No SC thermal imaging checks for chimneys

Timaru will not be subject to Environment Canterbury's (ECan) thermal imaging cameras, designed to detect non-compliant logburners.

Christchurch, Rangiora, Kaiapoi or Ashburton are all designated clean air zones and ECan has been carrying out thermal imaging to check for burner compliance.

Timaru is not a designated clean air zone because it does not currently have the same rules as the other areas, so is exempt.

An ECan spokeswoman said Timaru city was one of seven areas in Canterbury with no rules and was deemed a "polluted airshed" or "outside any clean air zone".

As such ECan said there was no intention for any thermal imaging or burner compliance checks this winter in Timaru.

It is part though of ECan's effort to meet national air standards which come into force in 2016, which will allow no more than three high pollution days a year.

ECan is targeting woodburners 15 years old or older because they are responsible for 55 per cent of home-heating emissions.

In Timaru letters are sent to home owners if a complaint is made about their fire being smoky.

One homeowner, who did not wish to be named, said she has received two letters, despite her fire being an ECan approved logburner installed in 2012.

"The letter says, ‘someone has spotted your chimney smoking recently'. It doesn't say when or who has seen it. Then it just gives you instructions on how to prepare your fire properly, it is pretty vague".

In the clean air zones ECan domestic home-heating officers visit streets at night and use a map to see which properties are suspected of having older logburners.

A thermal imaging camera, worth $9000, is held towards the property to see whether the chimney is in use. If it is, householders receive a letter stating they may be using a non-compliant burner and to call ECan.

The Timaru Herald