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Council spends $360,000 on failed fireplace ban

Council spends $360,000 on failed fireplace ban, and refuses to give up
“At least $360,000 has been spent on reports and staff time on Auckland Council’s failed attempt to ban open domestic fireplaces from 2014. More worryingly, despite councillors kicking an outright ban for touch 18 months ago, a heap of work continues by staff on policy and bylaw development to seriously limit people’s heating options, with costly restrictions for homeowners now set for the second term of this council,” says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer, who sought the council costs and work programme details via the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request.
“Even though this ridiculous proposed ban was kicked for touch early last year, this centre-left council continues to spend a lot of money and time on dreaming up ways on how to make life a lot more difficult and expensive for the tens of thousands of Aucklanders who enjoy their open fireplace or old wood burner.
“It’s very hard to believe this council’s claim that local domestic heating emissions contribute the most to the 730 premature deaths caused every year by Auckland’s air pollution which costs the health sector over $727m. But supposedly that’s the problem this fireplace ban is attempting to fix.
“If the council wants to improve Auckland’s air pollution and meet national standard goals, it needs to look harder at the likes of replacing its fleet of diesel buses that choke our streets. Instead, this council seems to determined to first hit the little old home owner the hardest. Responsible home owners are a soft target in all of this and once again Auckland Council seems determined to make their life a lot more expensive.   
“The council is wrongly targeting the likes of the little old pensioner, who loves their fireplace or old wood-burner and simply can’t afford to upgrade to the likes of a heat-pump and then pay more for electricity. Having an open fire place, and burning a bit of firewood, is a small comfort for many people and in fact it’s part of the New Zealand way of life. Their emissions are not killing hundreds of people in Auckland each year, but the policy wonks would like us to believe that’s what’s happening and subsequently staff continue to actively work on ways to end this small pleasure in life.  
“Despite a ban being supposedly kicked for touch 18 months ago, this latest revelation by the council shows that a lot of work continues by staff on ways they can put the squeeze on those who just enjoy their open fire place or old wood-burner. Those with a fireplace or an old woodburner cannot afford to relax as it’s not over yet. People need to make sure they know the views of their local councillors and candidates going into this election. Otherwise life could get a lot more expensive for those who rely on traditional heating.
“This will not make Auckland a more liveable city. All this does is take away another right from people, and add another cost. If it’s not increasing rates, regulatory fees and council debt, its user-pays rubbish, the prospect of toll roads, and soon the added cost of upgrading your household heating. This will just be another expense for many Aucklanders when costs should be falling with one council now in place,” says Cameron Brewer.

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