ECan targets old log fires

The stakes have been raised on cleaning up Timaru's air and 2471 homes with non-complying woodburners may be forced to replace them.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) met with the Timaru District Council this week to discuss how it will meet the 2016 National Environmental Standard for Air Quality target.

It proposed that when non-complying woodburners reached 15 years old, or when homes that had them installed were sold, they must be replaced.

ECan has proposed the steps as it believed the status quo was not working. ECan commissioner David Bedford presented the proposal, which would see Timaru meet the air quality standard by 2020.

An additional option would be not to allow any new woodburners to be installed, which was projected to help Timaru reach the target by 2017.

Low-emission pellet fires were to be permitted, as well as ultra low emission woodburners. However, these do not exist yet.

Mayor Damon Odey said something had to happen to ensure Timaru reached the target of no more than three high pollution nights per winter by 2016 and one per winter by 2020.

"We need to work as a community with ECan to see what we can do and show the Government we are fully committed to making this work. People are always going to want to burn wood. We are Kiwis, it is like having a barbecue.

"There are also issues around health and we have to address that too. As a community we don't want citizens walking around sucking in contaminants."

In Timaru there are 127 households with open fires, 2471 with non-complying woodburners, 2498 with complying woodburners and 77 with pellet burners.

Non-compliant burners are thought to be responsible for 56 per cent of home heat emissions and complying burners 35 per cent. Pellet fires are thought to contribute only 0.3 per cent, and open fires 8 per cent.

In Timaru home heating is responsible for 88 per cent of emissions, whereas in Washdyke 92 per cent comes from industry.

ECan will consult with the council until May and develop a plan for public consultation in June.

The Timaru Herald