Government sets sights on older wood and coal-fuelled fires

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 5:27PM
Some areas saw spikes in air pollution, mainly from burning wood and coal.
Some areas saw spikes in air pollution, mainly from burning wood and coal.

Government sets sights on older wood and coal-fuelled fires

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 5:27PM

The Government is cracking down on old-fashioned wood and coal-powered heating as it looks to improve New Zealand's overall air quality.

Although New Zealand's air quality is already fairly high, Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta said there were still areas of the country where there were issues, particularly during winter.

"Certain places have spikes in air pollution, mainly from burning wood and coal for home heating."

She said this could lead to severe health impacts, including shortness of breath, chest pain, heart and disease and even premature death.

To tackle the issue, the Government is looking at getting rid of all solid-fuel fires – such as older style wood and coal-fueled fireplaces.

Mahuta said people using these heating appliances would be allowed to keep them until they reach the end of their life.

But after that, they will be required to replace them with new, lower-emitting burners, unless a household or property is larger than 2ha.

"We are not proposing the removal of existing burners because we need to balance air quality improvements with the ability of households to maintain warm and dry homes," Mahuta said.

The changes won't affect most New Zealanders – some 90 per cent of the burners on the market already meet the proposed standard.

Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta said there were still areas of the country where there were issues, particularly during winter.

And large retail chains, such as Bunnings and The Warehouse, already include cheap low-emitting fuel-burner options.

Mahuta added that the proposals would bring New Zealand's air quality standards in line with those at an international level.

She said improved air quality as a result of this proposal would amount to a saving of roughly $820 million of health care costs over the next 10 years.

A two-month consultation on the proposal begins today and will run until April 24.