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Costly fireplace ban back on the table

Costly fireplace ban back on the table

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer says panicked council staff are determined to quickly push through costly measures to ban domestic open fireplaces as well as phase out pre-2005 wood burners, affecting nearly 90,000 Auckland homes.

“There’s a renewed panic around the place that if drastic measures are not taken Auckland will not meet National Environmental Standards for Air Quality - standards it is supposedly required to meet by 2016. Subsequently, it’s now the more costly and extreme measures for Auckland homeowners that are now being pushed for rapid implementation.”

Mr Brewer says the latest council figures show that a prohibition of domestic open fireplaces will affect 21,000 households, while there are 67,000 pre-2005 wood burners. The idea is to ban open fireplaces sooner rather than later and force old wood burners to be removed when houses are sold which is known as the point of sale rule.

“The reported numbers of those who die prematurely from air pollution caused by home heating fires seems to be bouncing all around the place, as are the claimed costs to our health sector, not to mention the numbers of Auckland households affected. However one thing constant is the council’s resolve to implement the new costly rules.

“Sadly this is going to hit low-income families and the elderly particularly hard. Many Aucklanders love their open fire or old wood burner and rely on these trusty and traditional forms of heating. Having to buy the likes of a heat pump and pay more for electricity will literally leave many in the cold.

“This is set to be just another extra council cost for Aucklanders to add to their growing rates bills, regulatory fee hikes, user-pays rubbish next year, and the Mayor’s on-going push for tolls and or a regional fuel tax.”

Mr Brewer says instead of just focusing on hitting the little suburban homeowner, the council needs to look harder at the likes of its dirty diesel buses that choke our streets.

“Councillors kicked this for touch in 2012. Nonetheless as of last year council had already spent at least $360,000 on reports and staff time to keep pushing this change through. With the 2016 target quickly looming, unfortunately it now seems a case of when not if,” says Cameron Brewer.


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