Auckland City Harbour News : October 31st 2014
YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER Friday, October 31, 2014 Daily reality: Gene Dillman, left, and Mark van Kaathoven say their backyard is covered in smoke almost daily, because of a neighbouring fireplace. Photo: JESS ETHERIDGE Smoke in their eyes By JESS ETHERIDGE SMOKE billows into Mark van Kaathoven’s backyard almost every day at 4pm. Tall punga ferns and bangalow palms line his outdoor area and give him privacy in a heavily built up corner of Freemans Bay. But still the smoke seeps through the leaves. Van Kaathoven, a gardener, says it stops him enjoying the section he has developed over two decades. The high volume of smoke makes it difficult for him to see or breath. Van Kaathoven has rung Auck- land Council a handful of times to report the smoke which he suspects comes from a wetback fireplace in the area. He’s even considered moving away. ‘‘I might as well have a backyard of 100 people smoking cigarettes.’’ Van Kaathoven and his partner Gene Dillman, a doctor, say they care about the impact of air pollution on the environment and the health of those living in intensified suburbs. ‘‘We all need to live together in the city, we’re all living on top of each other,’’ van Kaathoven says. Dillman says they are not opposed to fireplaces but believe there are more eco-friendly and efficient ways to heat a home. Both are encouraged by the proposed new Air Quality Bylaw that could force homeowners to remove pre-2005 wood and coal fireplaces by October 2018. The use of coal in indoor fires would also be banned from May 2015 – when the bylaw comes into play. Air pollution and declining health are the driving factors behind the fireplace ban. Auckland must also align with new air pollution standards set by the Government. Indoor fireplaces produce PM10 and PM2.5 air pollution particles which can cause serious health issues. Each particle is smaller than the width of a strand of human hair, Helgard Wagener, manager of council’s policies and bylaws department, says. Eighteen tonnes of air pollution is emitted daily during winter – 75 per cent of that comes from domestic fireplaces. Home fire pollution is rife across Auckland, including Owairaka Valley, Waitemata and Otahuhu. Wagener says wetback fireplaces will also need to comply with national air quality standards. He says about 110 adults die prematurely every year from breathing-related illnesses and the social cost exceeds $620 million. Owners will need to plug up old fireplaces or remove them before selling their houses. Auckland has about 58,000 pre- 2005 wood burners in use, the council says. There are 17,000 open fireplaces in city homes. Snuffed out: Home-owners will be forced to remove pre-2005 wood and coal fireplaces by October 2018 under the proposed Air Quality Bylaw. The Air Quality Bylaw will go out for public feedback and hearings will be held in February next year.
October 29th 2014