Armidale smoke pollution needs more data before solution: Adam Marshall

MORE DATA: Adam Marshall warned against using a small snippet of data to jump to a solution.
MORE DATA: Adam Marshall warned against using a small snippet of data to jump to a solution.

MORE data needs to be collected before the Armidale community chooses a solution to its air pollution problem, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall says.

On Wednesday, The Leader revealed Armidale’s air quality was worse than infamously polluted cities such as Hong Kong and Mexico City, with 85 per cent of pollution coming from woodfire smoke.

Despite the data, the NSW government has ruled out providing residents with $1500 to upgrade their woodfire heater, even though the same offer is available to Singleton and Muswellbrook.

Mr Marshall said government’s monitor was only installed in April, and was yet to collect a full year’s worth of data.

“You’ve got to be wary of extrapolating small snippets of data,” he said.

“Unlike the Hunter, our air quality is not one that is impacted all year, it’s only in a short window during winter.

“It’s too early to look at couple months of figures and jump to a solution without having that conversation with the community.”

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Mr Marshall said the $1500 rebate may be an option down the track, but warned against “copy and pasting” solutions from other parts of the state.

“It needs to be a local solution for a local issue, rather than being designed and imposed by people from outside the region,” he said.

“When council tried to ban wood heaters, we saw how the community outrightly rejected any move to do so.

“That highlights the importance of making sure it is a community driven and lead solution.”

Armidale resident Cindy Schneider has lived in the city for 20 years, and says the air quality is the worst she’s even seen.

“I’ve lived all over the place – London, Mexico, Jersey – this is far worse than anywhere else I’ve lived,” Ms Schneider said.

“I’ve got wood smoke belching out of people’s chimneys all around me. You can’t escape it, even in your own house.

“I want to know what council and the state government are going to do to help. While we wait for them to do something, we’re all getting sick.”

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