We have an issue developing in the South Island which could have serious implications for the vulnerable elderly and very young throughout the rest of the country.
Like many coastal towns Timaru has a serious winter air quality problem with industrial coal fired boilers, heavy trucks and solid fuel home heaters creating heavy smog during the winter months.
Some regional councils, which are responsible for the development of Regional Air Plans have taken a practical approach to the issue but others, including Environment Canterbury require log burners over 15 years old to be replaced regardless of efficiency. We now have people, who can’t afford a new log burner, living in unheated homes in the South Island winter, through fear of a penalty for having a smoky chimney.
Apparently a number of engineering companies offered to upgrade older style log burners to meet the new standards. It is a relatively straight forward operation which is done on a regular basis and in most cases can be done with the log burner in place. That offer was either declined ignored. There was also a suggestion that older style log burners should only be replaced when the house was sold but that was also rejected. There are also available in New Zealand Swiss made electrostatic chimney filters which have been successfully trialed and approved over most of Europe. They would cost around $2500 to buy and have fitted but, compared to between $5000 and $10,000 for a new log burner which many people simply cannot afford. Once again, the Canterbury Regional Council has refused to consider anything other than taking out older log burners.
More recently when the possibility of upgrading older log burners was again raised, Environment Canterbury refused to consider the possibility, claiming that it was too late for amendments and it would take a prolonged and costly plan change process. They also claimed the log burners would need to be taken out of the house to be rebuilt and laboratory tested. As abatement notices and penalties can be imposed for visible chimney smoke regardless of the age of the log burner the 15 year restriction and claimed laboratory testing of upgraded log burners are unnecessary.
South Island district health boards advise that air quality and home heating are intrinsically linked and both have implications for human health. That means they must be managed in balance. It is irresponsible to frighten people into living without winter heating with illogical rules to clean up the air they breathe. Cold winter homes pose a major threat to the health of the elderly and the very young. To put these people at unnecessary risk because a regional council is too stubborn and arrogant to listen to the community they are supposed to serve is simply unacceptable.
All political parties will be asked if they would allow older style log burners anywhere in the country to be upgraded and their responses will be published in the Grey Power Magazine before the general election.
Grey Power Federation
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Grey Power’s Aims and Objectives
- To advance, support and protect the welfare and well being of older people.
- To affirm and protect that statutory right of every New Zealand resident, to a sufficient New Zealand Superannuation entitlement.
- To strive for a provision of a quality Health Care to all New Zealand residents regardless of income and location.
- To oppose all discriminatory and disadvantageous legislation affecting rights, security and dignity.
- To be non aligned with any political party, and to present a strong united lobby to all Parliament and statutory Bodies on matters affecting New Zealanders.
- To promote and establish links with kindred organizations.
- To promote recognition of the wide-ranging services provided by senior citizens of New Zealand.
- To gain recognition as an appropriate voice for all older New Zealanders.
Grey Power Achievements
Brief Overview of some results that Grey Power have been effective in achieving.
- Removal of the Surtax
- Asset Testing Legislation being Phased Out
- Lower doctors’ Fees
- Lower Pharmacy Fees
- Removal Over 80’s Driving Tests
- Removal Simulated Driving Tests by Occupational Therapists
- Lower Tariff Electricity
- Superannuation Increased to 66% NATOTWW
- Rate Rebate Scheme re-vitalised
- Independent Superannuation & Income Centres
- Improved Regulations for Rest Homes
- Code of Practice for Rest Homes
- Abolition of Interest on Student Loans
- The National Superannuation Adjustment for the Tax Cuts in the 2008 Budget is a long awaited recognition by a major political party of the plight of the elderly reliant on NZ Superannuation
- Hearing aid subsidy increased
- Rates Rebate Scheme indexed to CPI. Amount now $580 (originally $500) and threshold now $23,240 (from 20,000 originally)
- Spot Audits for Rest Homes
- Retention of Graduating Doctors – (Student Loan)
- Lowering Electricity Increase for ETS
- Retention of SuperGold Card Off-Peak Travel
- Retention of SuperGold Card Waiheke Island Ferry Travel
The Student Loan achievement was recognised in a letter from the Co-President of the NZ University Students Association, Connor Roberts, and also by the Prime Minister in an address to the Students Association in 2006.
We are also mindful of the fact that there are many gains still to be made and that our members can be assured of our continued efforts on their behalf.
In addition to the above, Grey Power has been successfully involved in many outside committees in Energy and Health in particular. Hard of Hearing, Disability committees, NZ Specifications for conditions in Rest Homes,Community Support Services Industry Training Organization (CSSITO) for conditions for Home Care and Rest Home Workers, Health of the Older Person, (HOOP) and Electricity Commission Committees to give a few examples.