Review for Clean Heat programme

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014

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Timaru's Clean Heat programme is up in the air, as the regional council launches a wide-ranging review of its regulations.

The programme offered subsidies up to $1000 to help people convert to more efficient forms of heating, such as heat pumps and pellet fires, but Environment Canterbury (ECan) spokeswoman Katherine Trought confirmed this could change.

However, she could not give details on the likely make-up of any new programme.

"Significant measures are required for Timaru and we are working with the Timaru District Council to agree what the next steps will be. This may include further subsidies," she said.

"We are currently reviewing our air plans and will go out to the community in May for consultation on a draft plan for Timaru."

The town has one of the worst air pollution records in the country - in the past decade it has recorded 30 to 50 high-pollution nights a year.

By 2016, it is allowed to record only three or face possible restrictions to development.

ECan research suggests more than 80 per cent of Timaru's particulate pollution comes from poor home heating.

Timaru mayor Damon Odey said he was wary of any "big stick" approach, such as banning certain types of heating.

"We've enjoyed the co-operative approach everyone took last year. Education is a big key to getting people to change their habits," he said.

"It's up to ECan (what they propose in the plan), but if there's going to be a big stick, we might have to lop a bit of that stick off."

ECan air quality commissioner David Bedford said the plan would likely include stronger regulations, but there would also be a "stronger educational approach".

"Timaru has work to do, but it's clear the community have responded to the publicity of the issues over the last couple of years," he said.

Mr Odey said ECan representatives would be briefing the council about its proposed approach later this month.

Since the programme was revamped in 2012, ECan has assisted with 312 conversions in Timaru to cleaner forms of heating. It increased the available subsidy from $500 to $1000 last year.

However, Ms Trought said most of the available funds for the 2013-2014 financial year have already been used.

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- The Timaru Herald

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