The Grey Power Federation is to ask Government to ensure no one is prevented by regional air plans from living in a warm house during winter.
National president Tom O’Connor said, while most regional councils and unitary authorities were taking a practical approach to the issue of air pollution during winter others, including Environment Canterbury, require log burners over 15 years old to be replaced regardless of efficiency. “We will ask Government to require all regional air plans to include a provision for older solid fuel heaters to be upgraded to meet reasonable air standards as a discretionary activity as is the case in Marlborough.”
O’Connor said, while there were no real issues with winter heating in the far north, in many other parts of the North Island and most of the South Island winter heating, usually and traditionally by log burners, was essential for healthy warm homes.
“In parts of Canterbury we now have people, who can’t afford a new log burner, living in unheated homes in the South Island winter, through fear of having a smoky chimney and a penalty from their regional council”.
O’Connor said it was now known that tradesmen had offered to upgrade older style log burners in Canterbury to meet the new standards as early as 2011. “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 submission 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,” he said.
O’Connor said there are also available in New Zealand Swiss made electrostatic chimney filters which have been successfully trialled and approved over most of Europe. They would cost around $2500 to buy and have fitted 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, he said.
“We understand the need to clean up the winter air in many towns and cities but those rules simply cannot be so idealistic and strict that people are forced to live in cold houses if they can’t afford new log burners or extra electricity. That is a death sentence to many people on limited incomes.”