Bryan Waters is upset he can no longer use his fire to heat his home. Photo: Andrew Board.

Wood burners could make comeback

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Wood burners could make a comeback to Nelson with two of the contenders for the mayoralty saying they want them back.

Installing a wood burner in a new home or updating an old wood burner are no longer allowed in some parts of Nelson city after the Nelson Air Quality Plan came into effect.

While the policy has achieved its goal of cleaning up polluted air in certain areas of the city, it has left some residents upset that they can no longer afford to heat their homes with the prices of heat pumps soaring with the price of power.

Bryan Waters says he was caught out because the council classified his Stanley Crescent home as being a part of Washington Valley, which has clean air restrictions. Because he lives in Beachville he didn’t act on upgrading his 1970s fire because he didn’t think he had to. Both of his neighbours use their fires because they were upgraded in time.

After receiving an abatement notice for using his fire, he has been heating his home with a gas heater and fin oil heater. Both of which are uneconomical and come with “other risks”. He wants the council to reverse the notices and allow homeowners like him to upgrade their fire.

Mayoral candidate Rachel Reese says Bryan’s case highlights the stupidity of the bylaw. “Can there truly be a measurable difference to public health from one side of Stanley Crescent to the other?  Mr Waters is in the bizarre situation where he has been ordered to pull out his wood burner, while his neighbours metres away can happily continue using theirs with no restrictions. It does not make sense.”
She says many others are struggling to properly heat their families because of the rule. She is putting forward a proposal to amend the plan.

“It is time to end this blunt instrument approach to clean air, and find a way of providing what many people lack; a warm, dry home, and a heating option at a price they can afford.  After all, these are the most basic of needs.”
Mayor Aldo Miccio says the council has been working on a solution for some time and that includes “down draft” wood burners that are already being used in Otago. He says they could be available and ready to be installed for next winter.

The owner of the technology, Roger Best, says his wood burners emit very low levels of smoke and have been tested to prove it since 2003.
He says Environment Canterbury is on the verge of allowing the fires to be installed in Canterbury and if that happens Nelson can follow suit immediately.