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Chch pollution trends down with Clean Heat

September 28, 2006

MEDIA STATEMENT

Christchurch pollution trends downwards and more people choose no-interest Clean Heat Project loan

Environment Canterbury’s Clean Heat Project, launched in 2003, is having a measurable reduction on pollution levels, according to the latest ECan post-winter analysis. In addition, more people making use of the Clean Heat Project subsidy are opting for the no-interest loan option. This enables them to pay the cost of insulation and clean heating off over ten years through their rates.

“Clean Heat is gaining momentum, resulting in winter air pollution levels in Christchurch continuing to trend down. As well as this, more people are getting on board ECan’s Clean Heat Project and taking up the no-interest loan or the partial subsidy, " said ECan chairman Sir Kerry Burke. “Previously the Clean Heat Project has attracted more people who qualify for the full subsidy, whereas many of the properties that we need to convert to cleaner heat are owned by double-income wage-earners who will not qualify for the full subsidy. It’s good to see this group on board now.

"The downward trend in air pollution and the take-up of the Clean Heat Project subsidies are something for us to celebrate. It’s good for everyone living in this city to know that we are breathing less polluted winter air, which will benefit the health of all of us. Christchurch people are making cleaner heating choices, thanks to the help that is available, and this is reflected in the latest data. Real progress is being made towards the difficult goal of achieving the National Environmental Standard for air by the 2013 target date,” Sir Kerry said.

The Clean Heat Project, which aims to help around 26,000 Christchurch households convert to better insulation and cleaner forms of home heating by 2013 is proving to be a success.

The recent Canesis independent analysis, which takes the effects of fluctuations in the weather out of the assessment, averages air pollution over six hours on cold, still winter nights. "It provides an excellent measure of air pollution for year to year comparisons," Sir Kerry said. “When this year’s value is compared with the values on cold, still nights for the previous ten years, a downward trend is clearly evident. Clean Heat, with seven years still to go, is really starting to produce results for the Christchurch community," he said.

"We have just about reached the half-way mark in home assessments. Actual conversions are growing and are on track to achieve the 26,000 target, producing measurable results," Sir Kerry said.

Close to 7,000 Christchurch households had used the Clean Heat Project to install insulation and switch from a polluting and inefficient open fire or older-style burner sine the project began three years ago. Momentum and interest had built considerably in the past year, with strong interest and support for the no-interest loan option.

The Clean Heat Project last month reached its 12,000th home assessment and has 15,000 registrations made in total. There is a marketing campaign underway to encourage people to prepare for next winter now when waiting times are shorter.

Cr Richard Budd, chairman of the ECan air portfolio, said it was also good to see more and more people making use of the partial Clean Heat Project subsidy to make the switch. “In previous years, most people changing to clean heat have received the full subsidy. But for July and August this year, of 630 households completing their clean heat installations, 308 of these were partial subsidies, 233 were full subsidies and 89 were for rental properties.

“Of the 308 partial subsidies, most of these - 185 - were households making use of the no-interest loan to pay back the cost of insulation and clean heat over ten years on their rates payments. “

The most popular forms of cleaner heating are heat pumps (60%), followed by low emission wood burners (21%) and pellet fires (17%).

With around 46,000 Christchurch households estimated to rely on solid fuel for home heating in 2002, the Clean Heat Project aims to help more than half of these households make a switch to less polluting home heating. “Many of the others will be making that change themselves anyway,” said Cr Budd. “Plus we also have to allow for natural attrition with older houses being removed and replaced with modern, well-insulated housing and no chimneys.”

For more information or to apply for the Clean Heat Project, phone 353 WARM (353 9276) or visit www.cleanheat.org.nz

ENDS

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