Easing community fears on home wood burners
Issued: Tuesday 11 February 2020
South Waikato District Council has no plans to ban wood burners for home heating, contrary to a recent news article.
“Council has received many calls from concerned people in our community. We are aware that this article has frightened people,” said Kerry Fabrie, Council’s Communications Manager. “To reassure our community, Council has no plans to ban wood burners.”
The article referred correctly to a bylaw being a possibility, however Council has no plans to investigate this at this stage. We prefer to focus on improved awareness and education to drive behaviour change. The article also referred correctly to Tokoroa being unlikely to meet the necessary air quality standards.
The number and level of exceedances over the past 10 years has however improved significantly.
Our Council has long advocated for a change to how exceedances are measured. In 2010 for instance, there were eight exceedances, with levels all over 60 microns*, including four over 70, and one startling reading of 99.
Compare this to 2019, when Tokoroa had only five exceedances, with levels of 51, 52, 55, 55 and 60.
Council is working collaboratively with leaders in our community, social service organisations, schools, churches, Waikato Regional Council (WRC) and other stakeholders on improved education and behaviour change programmes.
Council is currently running a social media campaign directing our community to our Warm Homes Clean Air Scheme Selector web page. Ms Fabrie said that since the start of the campaign in mid-December, there has been a 300% increase in visits to the page. This is a strong indication of community desire for change.
“We are thrilled that people are looking into the various schemes we offer,” said Ms Fabrie. “It is extremely encouraging that our community wants to make positive changes to work towards achieving cleaner air for us all to breathe.”
The number of people taking advantage of the schemes has increased over the past three years. Don’t wait for winter to apply. Apply over summer and you’re good to go for winter.
The Warm Homes Clean Air project was established in 2007 by WRC and SWDC to subsidise replacement of non-compliant wood burners with clean heat installations, education and awareness campaigns around burning dry wood, and correct operation and maintenance of wood burners.
Growing awareness around this issue is critical and Council continues to work with partners and stakeholders in delivering education and awareness campaigns that drive behaviour change.
The goal is to increase the uptake of clean heat replacement incentive schemes offered in the South Waikato by understanding the communities’ perspectives around community-led action for improving air quality and partnering with other government agencies and suppliers.
“Emissions from non-compliant fireplaces and the burning of wet wood are the greatest contributors to poor air quality in Tokoroa,” she said. “Air quality is improving compared to previous years, but more improvement is still required in order for Tokoroa to become a compliant air shed.”
Council’s approved good wood suppliers are listed on our website.
If you think you may be eligible to replace your old wood burner with an energy efficient clean device, you are encouraged to visit our website and check out the WHCA Scheme Selector. ENDS Words 526
* Exceedances measure PM10, very small particles in the air, produced primarily from household fires and burners that are small enough to get into your lungs and cause serious health problems. The national environmental standard is breached when 24-hour average PM10 levels exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m3) of air.