Jacqueline Williams June 02, 2012
Wood heaters sold or installed in the ACT will undergo stricter emissions and efficiency standards, under proposed legislation by the ACT Greens.
The draft legislation was issued for community consultation yesterday and aims to reduce pollution from wood heaters in the ACT. It also aims to reduce the impact of smoke pollution on people's health.
The Greens said the ACT's approach to wood smoke pollution was inadequate and an area where the government had failed to take action.
Greens health spokesperson Amanda Bresnan said 70 per cent of particle pollution in Canberra came from wood heaters. She also said wood smoke pollution had serious impacts on people's health.
''Wood smoke increases pollution three times during the winter, and causes Canberra's air to exceed the national advisory standards for particle matter pollution,'' Ms Bresnan said.
''It particularly affects children, older people, and people with heart or breathing disorders.''
The Greens' proposed emissions and efficiency standards for new wood heaters could reduce particulate matter pollution over 15 years by up to 65 per cent and reduce wood use by about 10 per cent, according to the Greens.
Ms Bresnan said the legislation was not aimed at banning wood heaters, rather updating emission standards for wood heaters.
''The amount of emissions allowed from new wood heaters in the ACT is more than four times that allowed in leading jurisdictions and we do not have a minimum efficiency standard for wood heaters,'' she said. ''It is time to update this out-of-date standard for the health of Canberrans.''
Ms Bresnan said the Tuggeranong Valley was one of the worst affected areas in the ACT. The Tuggeranong Community Council welcomed the draft legislation yesterday and said it would encourage people to buy new wood heaters that were cheaper to run, required less wood, and emit less pollution. The council encouraged the community and wood heating industry to support the proposed legislation.
''This is not about banning wood heaters or letting people freeze in Canberra,'' the council said.
''It will lead to a substantial reduction in winter wood smoke pollution in our neighbourhoods.''
The Asthma Foundation has also backed the Greens' motion for stricter emissions standards. It says the proposed legislation would reduce wood smoke pollution's impact on those living with asthma and respiratory conditions.
The foundation's chief executive, Nathalie Maconachie, said non-compliant wood heaters should be phased out and removed when a property was sold. Ms Maconachie said the foundation also supported an expansion of the existing wood burner replacement scheme.
''This [the replacement scheme] is a great initiative, but currently only replaces wood burners with gas heaters,'' she said.
''The scheme should also offer low-emissions electric heating as a replacement option to broaden its appeal and uptake.''
■ The ACT Greens are seeking feedback on the Environment and Construction Occupations Legislation (Wood Heaters) Amendment Bill. Submissions close Friday, August 17.