Tokoroa’s air breached national environmental standards several times in May and as a result national regulations prohibiting the use of new open fireplaces will apply to the town from May 2013.
Tokoroa had three PM10 exceedances on May 20, 22 and 23 of 52 μg/m3, 54 μg/m3 and 58 μg/m3 respectively.
Revisions to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality in 2011 state: when the PM10 standard is breached in an airshed after September 1, 2011, a ban on the use of new solid-fuel burning open fires will apply a year later.
For Tokoroa, the first breach of the PM10 standard since September 1, 2011 was this May. Therefore the use of open fireplaces installed a year or more later – on or after May 21, 2013 – will be prohibited.
People who already have open fireplaces installed before May 21, 2013 will be unaffected and can still use these.
The ban only applies to houses and other domestic buildings, not to commercial buildings.
Waikato Regional Council policy advisor Amanda Banks says the rule is intended to prevent new pollution sources, such as open fireplaces, in areas that already exceed the standards.
“Open fires also aren’t very effective at keeping people warm and if you heat your home with one, you could be eligible for a free heating upgrade.”
The council’s Clean Heat Retrofit Programme is available for Tokoroa homeowners who have a community services card and an adequately insulated home heated by a fireplace or an older-style woodburner.
Funding is still available and homeowners who think they qualify should contact Moetu Togia on 07 885 0776 by Friday, June 8.