ARIMDALE’S air quality is worse than the infamously polluted cities of Hong Kong, Mexico City and Singapore, with pollution levels sitting at almost four times the recommended level.
Woodfire smoke is responsible for up to 85 per cent of the pollution, but the state government has ignored calls to provide funding for residents to switch away from wood heating – despite providing the same funding to places better off such as Muswellbrook and Singleton.
Because of Armidale’s unique geography, sitting at the bottom of a valley, the smoke pollution has a much great effect upon the city than it’s Hunter Valley neighbours.
Since May, two of the city’s air monitoring stations have record daily average level of PM2.5 particles of between 2.5 and 3.8 times the National Air Pollution standard.
The south Armidale monitoring station recorded 49 exceedances from May to July, compared to just two in Muswellbrook and none in Singleton.
When the Greens questioned the why the $1500 subsidies were not available to Armidale, the government ignore the question and said: “The EPA released a package of education materials that can be used by all councils to encourage other forms of heating and better operation of wood heaters.”
The Greens energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham slammed the government for sitting on its hands, particularly when it had a legal obligation to reduce air pollution.
“It is outrageous that Armidale residents are breathing highly polluted air while the government refuses a relatively inexpensive and easy fix,” Mr Buckingham said.
“The Greens estimate that for as little as two million dollars you could clean up Armidale’s air quality to ensure it meets the required health standards.
“Air pollution is a killer and the people of Armidale should not have to suffer.
“The Greens are calling on the Government to make available $1500 to every resident of Armidale who switches from wood heating to less polluting forms of heating.
“While we recognise that people are attached to wood heating, we cannot ignore the health impacts and the Government has a responsibility to act.”