Canterbury’s winter air story

Environment Canterbury’s 2016 winter air programme aims to prevent smoky chimneys by encouraging and educating people to burn smoke-free and change to cleaner heating options over time.

“All it needs is a slight change in technique and people can enjoy warm homes and clean air,” said Environment Canterbury Commissioner David Bedford.

“The reduction last year in high-pollution nights is good start but there is still a lot more work to do to. The Government’s National Environmental Standards target is three high pollution nights a year and if we are to achieve this target, wood burners cannot go on sending out smoke.

“A smoky chimney usually means the fire is not hot enough and unburnt firewood is a waste of money and heat. We want to help people get more out of their fire and less out of the chimney. They will save on firewood and have a cosy home.”

Environment Canterbury will soon be inviting people to come along to a series of smoke-free burning demonstrations during the winter in Christchurch and Kaiapoi, where NES targets were exceeded last year.

“If the smoky chimney persists, there are measures available in the Canterbury Air Plan to impose penalties, but we would much rather show people how to make the change without having to go that far.”

Mr Bedford said that low-income households needing financial assistance to replace their wood burner or open fire could well qualify for some of the grants available.

“Since we started our winter assistance programmes, we have helped more than 600 people throughout Canterbury change to cleaner heating technologies and add insulation to their homes.

“We’re also working with the heating industry to encourage the development of ultra-low emission  wood burners which emit as little smoke as a pellet fire. There are now seven of these burners on the market in Canterbury.”

“Warm homes will always remain a priority,” he said.