Steps taken towards improving the region’s air quality

Press Release – Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is taking steps towards improving the region’s air quality with open fires no longer able to be used in homes in Napier and Hastings in just a month’s time.Media Release
5 December 2011
Steps taken towards improving the region’s air quality

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is taking steps towards improving the region’s air quality with open fires no longer able to be used in homes in Napier and Hastings in just a month’s time.

From 1 January 2012 people living in the urban areas of Havelock North, Hastings, Flaxmere or Napier (Airzone 1) on a property less than two hectares in size, will be prohibited from using an open fire. This includes open fires installed after 10 December 2008, when the rule changes were introduced.

The phasing out of open fires in Napier and Hastings has always been considered essential to achieve warmer homes and cleaner winter air. This is part of the air quality rule changes brought in by HBRC three years ago with the aim of meeting national air quality standards set by the Government.
HeatSmart Programme Coordinator Mark Heaney says open fires are an inefficient form of heating (most of the heat goes up the chimney) and generate significant levels of smoke that contributes to smoggy winter nights.

“Waiting for people to upgrade their fires over time in the course of property upgrades will not achieve the national standards in Napier or Hastings by 2020, therefore dates had to be set to phase out open fires as well as older style solid fuel burners,” says Mr Heaney.

Also from January 1 2012, any non-compliant woodburner that doesn’t meet emission standards in Airzone 1 is prohibited from use after ownership of the property is transferred. A transfer of ownership includes the sale of a house, or transfer of a property into a trust but does not apply in the event of death of a partner, or when the surviving partner continues to occupy the property.

Mark Heaney says when buying or selling a house this new ruling should be a negotiation point.

“If you’re thinking of selling, then a compliant, efficient and economic solid wood or electric heater will make your property more attractive than one that isn’t. On the other hand if you’re buying, check to make sure the fire complies with the required standards, and if it doesn’t, negotiate on price to allow you to buy a new fire that is going to save you money and be environmentally friendly.”

HBRC estimates the new ‘point of sale rule’ will effect around 2,500 house sales in the next five years and is making sure real estate professionals, legal advisors and property valuers are aware of the changes.

The HeatSmart programme provides financial assistance to homeowners to replace open fires and older wood burners. This programme has had a steady pick up by homeowners, who are also insulating their homes to further ensure a warm, healthy winter.

Housing New Zealand has been aware of the phase out date for some time and has an active programme to replace all open fires in their properties within the Napier and Hastings airsheds.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is preparing plans for managing compliance with the rules, and is discussing these with local councils. Enforcing the rules will likely be on a complaint basis, ie complaints about excessive or smelly smoke, but the Regional Council will continue with its focus on education about air quality and healthy homes, and promotion of the financial assistance being offered by both itself and Government.

ENDS

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