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Wood heaters banned in new Canberra suburb

Date

Christopher Knaus

A wood-fuelled heater.

A wood-fuelled heater.

Wood heaters will be banned in the new residential suburbs of the Molonglo Valley, with the government fearing the major development may threaten the ACT's air quality.

The heaters will be prohibited in Coombs and all future suburbs in Molonglo Valley, but the existing suburb of Wright will be exempt.

The decision follows the release of the annual Air Quality Report for 2011, which identifies domestic wood heaters as the biggest source of air pollution in the ACT.

Smoke from a wood burning heater in Tuggeranong.

Smoke from a wood burning heater in Tuggeranong. Photo: Supplied

Wood heaters are already banned in Dunlop and East O'Malley, according to Environment Minister Simon Corbell.

''We know that wood smoke can be a problem in the ACT which is why the government recently launched the ''Burn Right Tonight'' campaign to raise the public awareness of correct wood heater operation,'' he said.

But the ban has been criticised by Opposition Leader Zed Seselja, who fears the government will extend the prohibition right across the ACT.

Mr Seselja believes the reduction of pollution is being achieved by innovation and the development of newer, cleaner wood heating technology.

''Electricity prices are going through the roof and people are responding with things like wood heaters, and now the government is banning them as well,'' Mr Seselja said.

''I don't think it's the right way to go, I think the industry is responding with cleaner burning wood heaters,'' he said.

The air quality report identified four breaches of air quality standards in the colder months of May and July last year, but Mr Corbell said the report highlighted an excellent overall quality of air in Canberra.

Greens environment spokesman Shane Rattenbury welcomed the government's decision to ban wood heaters in the Molonglo Valley.

But Mr Rattenbury described it as a first step, and urged the government to do more to tackle wood heater pollution.

''The government knows that wood smoke pollution has a detrimental impact on people's health and Canberra's environment, which is why it needs to go further than it has,' Mr Rattenbury said.

''We need to take action on wood smoke all parts of Canberra, not just in the new Molonglo developments. Tuggeranong Valley remains an area of particular concern,'' he said.

The government and ActewAGL currently run a wood heater replacement program that gives residents a rebate of up to $800 to make the switch to gas-flued systems.

The Greens have proposed improvements to the program alongside legislation that would introduce stricter efficiency and emissions standards for wood heaters in the ACT.

Mr Rattenbury said the Greens had also proposed ways of better enforcing wood heater use, and ways to phase out older, dirtier wood heaters.

102 comments

  • Whats next Mr Corbrell, puppies.

    Commenter
    Nitro Gangster
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    July 10, 2012, 7:20AM
    • Corbell's still working on his law to make sure we get change from gift cards. Seriously, he thinks that is an issue he needs to fix for us lemmings.

      Solution to all this: To stop Labor, you must smash The Greens in October.

      Commenter
      Economist
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 9:39AM
    • Should ban bloody leaf blowers and advertising being driven around

      Commenter
      Franky
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 11:06AM
    • I would like to congratulate ACT gov, as they have taken a step forward in fighting the deadly war against climate change. Job well done..
      Wish NSW VIC and rest follows and we can reduce our climate change footprint like how Tasmania has done by investing in renewable sources of energy and shutting down that non enviro friendly Gunn's

      Commenter
      Simon Sheikh
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 11:49AM
    • @ Simin Sheikh. Sorry mate, but this will do nothing to counteract Climate Change. It will only make it worse. Burning wood is Carbon Neutral, whereas the alternatives, oil, electricity and gas ALL put fossilised carbon into the atmosphere.

      Commenter
      Fof
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 1:36PM
    • Why the hell is Canberra getting bigger and bigger? Stop building new suburbs, for God sake. And how about dismantling the stupid ACT Government. Another waste of money.

      Commenter
      Stop the rot
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 3:11PM
    • @ Simon. Actually Simon, this does not reduce CO2-e emissions as using wood as a source of energy/heat is actually a form of renewable energy.

      Commenter
      M
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 3:13PM
    • wood is a renewable source of energy simon......it grows on trees

      Commenter
      dr calvin trousersnake
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 3:13PM
    • I am a refugee from the pollution caused by wood heaters in Canberra. I literally fled the city because of the night-time pollution in my suburb, that caused sinusitis, headaches, dry, sore throat, and unrefreshing sleep.

      These heaters are 1800s technology. They have no place in a modern city.

      Commenter
      Revert2Mean
      Location
      Bubblepedia
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 3:15PM
    • @M - burning wood is not as "carbon neutral" as it may seem. If you do not burn firewood - it will rot. During decay the same amount of harmful gases and the same amount of heat will be emitted in the atmosphere - only slowly. Plus there will be harmful fungus and bacteria.

      It completely besides the point, but burning actually has some useful point - it warms you when you are needing it.

      Green blockheads are a complete miss when it comes to tree preservation and emissions.

      First, apart from photosynthesis (when oxygen is produced), all plants are breathing - i.e. consume oxygen. Mature trees consume more oxygen than they produce.

      Harvested at the right time, trees can be used as a construction material, thus storing carbon removed from atmosphere.

      "Preserve" trees - they will overgrow and will be good only for firewood due to decay and insect damage.

      And this is not the only dogma trumpeted by enviro-mentalists that actually harms our environment.

      Commenter
      dinkumnet
      Location
      dinkumnet.com
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 4:39PM

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