Armidale Regional Council said it will not be able to reduce wood smoke pollution without the support of the community

A PLAN to improve Armidale’s air quality will not go ahead without community backing.

ARC mayor Simon Murray said the council and NSW Environmental Protection Agency would need to engage with the public.

“Council’s existing wood heater local approvals policy has not changed,” Cr Murray said.

COUNCIL CONSULTS: Armidale Regional Council deputy mayor Dorothy Robinson and mayor Simon Murray have called on the community to support a pollution plan.

COUNCIL CONSULTS: Armidale Regional Council deputy mayor Dorothy Robinson and mayor Simon Murray have called on the community to support a pollution plan.

“Wood heaters have not been banned, however approval is still required from council prior to installation.

“Wood smoke pollution in Armidale city has been an ongoing issue for many years.”

A decision to make a submission to the Local Government NSW Conference on wood smoke management in October was met with widespread outrage.

Community members took to Facebook to denounce the decision.

As a result, councillors Jon Galletly, Diane Gray and Andrew Murat moved to rescind the motion in November.

Councillors voted to support the rescission motion.

But, the Community Strategic Plan 2017 to 2027 includes an outcome to improve air quality across the region.

That includes providing incentives to residents to reduce smoke pollution by moving to alternative energy sources.

The National Safety Standard for air pollution is exceeded regularly over winter in Armidale, Cr Murray said.

“To help address this issue we need the Armidale community’s support to be vigilant for excessive wood smoke from chimneys,” he said.

“And, take the time to learn how to use your wood heater to ensure you significantly reduce wood smoke emissions.

“Council and the Armidale community must work together to reduce wood smoke pollution in the city.”

The decision to rescind was made in November.