Changes to wood burner rules unlikely

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People hoping to have the ban on their wood burners reversed this winter may want to think again before stocking up on fire wood, as it’s unlikely any significant changes to the current wood burner rules will be made before winter.

Nelson City Council’s planning and regulatory committee chair, Brian McGurk, says the council is taking the issue “very seriously” and is expecting a report from council staff around possible changes to the rules around wood burners in early May.

But he acknowledged that any significant changes are unlikely before winter, with changes to the plan expected to take at least a year to process.

That could leave dozens of Nelson families in areas like Washington Valley, Bishopdale and Victory facing another cold winter, after many were forced to shut off their wood burners last year due to rules around the Nelson Air Quality Plan.

Brian says the wood burner issue is “top of mind” for many Nelsonians and while he wanted to see some changes, the council had to be mindful to the gains made in air quality since the plan was introduced more than a decade ago.

“The options will need to be fair, both financially and socially equitable. We don’t want people living in cold homes because they don’t have an affordable option.”

He says a review needs to be taken with “care” but he still hoped there would be some progress before winter, even if it was only expanding the number of new technologies around wood burners that people can install in their homes.

Nelson Grey Power president Neville Male, says the organisation will continue its “crusade” to have wood burners approved for use before this winter. He says it’s especially important considering another rise in power prices has been announced. A review of the council’s wood burner policy was annouced last December after a discussion between Brian and mayor Rachel Reese.