Mayor upbeat on air quality
Timaru Mayor Janie Annear does not want to see the "big stick" regulating the town's woodburners - despite indications that Timaru will not meet the Government's air quality standards in 2016.
Environment Canterbury reported to the district council that to meet the standards Timaru needs to either "convert", or stop using, 530 higher-emission burners each year, but nowhere near that number were being replaced.
However, Mrs Annear said yesterday she was the eternal optimist. "I'm confident that we can make it. We've been working really closely with ECan; they have been really good at getting the message out there."
Timaru has recorded 33 high- pollution nights this year. By 2016, it must record fewer than three a year or face penalties ranging from central government writing the town's air plan to restrictions on discharge consents.
ECan commissioner for air quality David Bedford said it was also working with other providers. "When we started down this road with the district council, we wanted to take a co-operative, educational approach."
The regional council launched a revamped Clean Heat programme for Timaru, offering subsidies of $500 to $2500 to convert to cleaner forms of heating such as heat pumps and pellet fires. ECan has completed 73 conversions since March, with at least 20 "booked".
Mr Bedford said other organisations, such as Lines Trust South Canterbury, the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, the South Canterbury District Health Board and Contact Energy also offered schemes.
"We might need to offer more incentives ourselves, but that could lead to increased targeted rates. Everything costs. There's no easy fix to this."
Mr Bedford said it would update the district council every three months, but regulations remain off the table.
Environment Minister Amy Adams declined to comment on Timaru's situation. However, ministry spokesman Michael Lovett was confident ECan would ensure Timaru met the targets.
"If the ministry feels that the progress in Timaru has not been as fast as we want it to be, we will bring it to ECan's attention.
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