Council move will ban wood heaters

WOOD heaters could be banned across Armidale after smoke pollution exceeded national health standards in 13 out of 14 days monitored. 

“We can’t go on living in this filthy air now Armidale’s ‘dirty little secret’ is out,” Armidale Dumaresq councillor Margaret O’Connor said. 

Together with councillor Peter O’Donohue, she is leading the charge to ban all wood heaters across Armidale by 2030.

The councillors want to ban wood heaters installed in all new homes and also ban the installation of any new wood heaters. 

Their recommendations followed a meeting of the environmental sustainability committee and were discussed at last Monday’s council meeting.

“Pollution from wood heaters continues to be a problem for Armidale, causing respiratory, heart and childhood health problems,” Cr Donohue said. 

“We need to adapt, modify and transition away from this form of heating.” 

It is estimated a third of homes in the Armidale area use wood for heating, and just 15 per cent of households with wood heaters caused 85 per cent of the pollution. 

Several councillors urged more consideration before banning the heaters in 2030. 

“There are more than 5000 wood heaters in the district and many residents are wedded to them,” Jim Maher said.

“They are a sustainable source of heating; what will we replace these wood heaters with?” Rob Richardson agreed. 

“A ban is too radical, what we should be looking at are heaters with a low particulant rate.”

Armidale councillors have decided to prepare a discussion paper on the recommendations and seek input from the community. 

But they noted the consultation period should be completed by September next year, when the NSW government is due to introduce new clean air regulations. 

Councillors also noted a new, merged council with surrounding shires would review all policies adopted by the current council. 

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