‘We’ve been let down’

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A Nelson woman who has led the charge to have woodburners reinstated in some parts of Nelson, says the Nelson City Council has “let us down”, and is leading a protest outside the civic house on Thursday to let councillors know.

Melissa Short has spent months collecting information about the rules around woodburners in Nelson and other parts of the country. She says the recommendation that will be put in front of councillors this week has let ratepayers down by not consulting with them during the review. And at least one councillor agrees.

Councillor Tim Skinner was on the working party and says he’s disappointed that the issue hasn’t been dealt with and that ratepayers couldn’t have their say.

Tim says he’s disappointed the public weren’t included, because it was clear from the start that they should have been. The initial agenda notes, for the first meeting of working party, on July 24, stated its role clearly as “an interface between community and sector groups so that interested members of the public can provide feedback”.

Tim says that didn’t happen. “The public were not consulted and that was what the working party was there to do. I was frustrated at that but it was pointed out that the community wasn’t a stakeholder.”

Tim says air quality in airshed C, which covers Atawhai and parts of Nelson city, is well within national standards and could allow woodburners back. He says there’s also room in airsheds B1 and B2, in Stoke and Tahunanui, before they hit the national standards.

The Nelson Air Quality Plan was passed in 2004 and aimed to clear up Nelson’s poor air quality. It has done that, but ten years on some say it’s gone too far and there is plenty of room to allow clean air woodburners back into some parts of Nelson and the air quality still be within the national standard.

It was a big issue at last year’s election and a working party was set up to investigate options earlier this year. This month, the working party sent a recommendation for full council to consider. The recommendation is to bring forward a review of the air quality plan to 2016.

Because installing a new woodburner is now prohibited, a change in the Nelson Air Quality Plan is needed before new woodburners can be allowed back.

Melissa says that’s too far away.

“I’m very, very disappointed. This is a much needed, long-awaited report into the air plan and the community is begging for change. We’ve had this opportunity, $100,000 has been given to it and the community has been ignored.”

Chair of the working party, councillor Luke Acland, was unavailable for comment.

Councillors will discuss the recommendation on Thursday morning. The protest will start at 8.30am.