12 Jul 2013

Cromwell leader questions heating crackdown

10:24 pm on 12 July 2013

A Central Otago community leader is questioning a council crackdown on smoky chimneys.

The regional council says it will give households three months to fix heavy smoke problems or face a fine of up to $300 a day.

Cromwell community board chairperson Neil Gillespie says burning things is part of daily life in rural New Zealand.

He says there are clearly health problems from smoke, but the council is using a hammer to crack a nut because not everyone can afford to change their heating.

The Otago Regional Council has already banned coal and open fires and inefficient woodburners, and offered seven years of subsidies to switch. However, it says in some towns there has been little improvement - so it will have get tougher.

Council figures show Alexandra has exceeded national air pollution standards on 21 days this year, Milton 18 days and Cromwell 12 days.

The council's environmental information and science director, John Threlfall, says residents have until the end of October to get a subsidy on a cleaner woodburner or heatpump.