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Published: 2012-05-31 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council says it is working with Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) and developers over a consented project to build a marina at Tairua.

Tokoroa had three PM10 exceedances on 20, 22 and 23 May of 52 μg/m3, 54 μg/m3 and 58 μg/m3 respectively.

Revisions to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality in 2011 state that when the PM10 standard is breached in an airshed after 1 September 2011, a ban on the use of new solid-fuel burning open fires will apply a year later.

For Tokoroa, the first breach of the PM10 standard since 1 September 2011 was this May. Therefore the use of open fireplaces installed a year or more later – on or after 21 May 2013 – will be prohibited.

People who already have open fireplaces installed before 21 May 2013 will be unaffected and can still use these. The ban only applies to houses and other domestic buildings, not to commercial buildings.

Waikato Regional Council policy advisor Amanda Banks said: “The rule is intended to prevent new pollution sources, such as open fireplaces, in areas that already exceed the standards.

“Open fires also aren’t very effective at keeping people warm and if you heat your home with one, you could be eligible for a free heating upgrade.”

The council’s Waikato Clean Heat Retrofit Programme is available for Tokoroa homeowners who have a community services card, and an adequately insulated home heated by a fireplace or an older-style woodburner. Funding is still available and homeowners who think they qualify should contact Moetu Togia on 07 885 0776 by Friday 8 June.

The programme offers free clean heat appliances, including complying woodburners, pellet fires and heat pumps, to replace less efficient, more polluting forms of heating.

South Waikato District Council also offers schemes to help people change to clean heat appliances.

South Waikato District Council community development manager Amanda Hema said: “South Waikato District Council’s Warm Homes Clean Air programme replaces old heating appliances with new energy efficient ones and is fully funded.

“South Waikato District Council also manages the Heat Swap Scheme which is open to everyone in the district. Effectively people can apply to have a new heating appliance installed, the council will pay for the project and the ratepayer pays the council back at an extremely low rate of interest over 10 years. There are criteria with both schemes, contact the council to see if you are eligible.”

PM10 occurs in smoke from wood burning fires. It is not visible to the human eye and is small enough to get into people’s lungs and cause serious health problems and may make conditions like asthma worse. Burning dry wood, using a compliant woodburner and not dampening down fires help reduce the amount of smoke.