Rotorua residents living in what is term the ‘airshed’ have been issued with what seem to be a final fuel burner warning.
Dated November 1, 2019, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council says as from January 31 next year use of non-compliant solid fuel burners will be illegal.
According to ‘Cleanair Rotorua’, a section of the regional council’s site, the city has “the worst winter air quality of any airshed in the North Island.
“The air quality in Rotorua exceeds the safe and acceptable level set by the Ministry for the Environment,” the site says.
The Rotorua airshed covers practically of central Rotorua, from Kawaha Point/Selwyn Heights in the north, Western Heights/Matipo Heights in the west, Hemo Gorge (south) and Owhata and Lynmore (east).
“The airshed has some solid fuel burner regulations designed to reduce smoke for improved air quality and community health,” the regional council says in a letter to residents.
Specific regulations also affect buying or selling properties.
The council has also sought to ameliorate the impact of the changes, though in fairness the community has been kept informed when first mooted close to 15 years ago.
The council has set up ways to help people who have non-compliant burners, offering “affordable replacement” heating and insulation scheme which in some instances may be free, the council says.
The most vulnerable to the adverse health effects of our air pollution are the very young, the elderly and those who suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma.
About 228 tonnes of fine particulates are discharged annually into Rotorua's air.
The council says it needs to reduce the discharge by 60 tonnes to meet the safe and acceptable standards set by the Ministry for Environment.
The biggest source of Rotorua's urban air pollution (58 per cent) is from solid-fuel burners for home heating – wood burners, multi-fuel burners and coal burners.
Solid fuel burners already illegal include indoor open fires, chip heaters, coal ranges/cookers and Marshall Heaters. All woodburners installed before September 1, 2005, and all coal and multi-fuel burners will be considered illegal after January 31 next year.
The regional council has been contacted for details of penalties in the event of non-compliance.