Clean Heat offers assistance for ill and low-paid

Ill people and low-income earners are being targeted by an initiative to reduce air pollution in Central Otago. 

Details of the Otago Regional Council's Clean Heat Clean Air initiative for the district were formally announced at a meeting in Alexandra yesterday.

About 65 people attended the launch during which eligibility criteria for subsidised home heating equipment was released for the first time since the initiative was proposed last year.

Occupants or owners of homes in Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, and Arrowtown with Community Service Cards and/ or air pollution-related health conditions were eligible for assistance, subsidies, or loans.

Those in inadequately insulated homes, houses that had a primary source of heat non-compliant with new air emission standards, or where neighbours were suffering air pollution-related health conditions were also eligible through the ORC's five initiative programmes.

ORC chairman Stephen Cairns told the meeting that about $750,000 was being used to fund the first year of approved appliance installations (retro-fitting) and insulation, during which almost 300 homes would be involved.

‘‘There is more funding in the pipeline . . . we could be looking at $1.6 million or $1.7 million in the next couple of years,'' he said.

Last year, the ORC set aside $400,000 to subsidise approved appliance installations over two years, while the Central Otago District Council, Energy-Smart, Contact Energy, Aurora, and the Government's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority also contributed funds to the proposal.

The initiative followed the ORC's tough new measures to improve air quality, most of which were adopted in December last year to meet the National Environment Standard for PM10 emissions (fine particles that make the air hazy) by 2013.

Under the changes, the discharge standard for domestic heating in air zone 1, which covered Alexandra, Cromwell, Arrowtown, and Clyde, was set at 0.7g of particulate for every kilogram of fuel burnt.

Mr Cairns was asked how the council planned to deal with people not willing to comply with the new standards at yesterday's meeting.

‘‘Eventually, those new national standards will start to bite. There could be a time when we may have to address that issue,'' he said.

The Environment Court received six submissions on the ORC plan changes, from Solid Energy New Zealand, Holcim New Zealand Ltd, Melview Developments, Horticulture New Zealand, and Donald and Millie Campbell.

Parts of the plan that were directly targeted by the appeals would remain proposed until dealt with by the Environment Court.

Brochures detailing the initiative and including application forms were sent to all ratepayers in the four Central Otago towns where homeowners and occupiers were eligible for inclusion in the programme, yesterday.

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