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Smoky chimney campaign from Environment Canterbury

Wednesday, June 12, 2013   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: environmental health, environment, pollution, air

Environment Canterbury would like to tell you about their campaign to help homeowners who have wood burners take responsibility for the amount of smoke they may be emitting in to the air this winter.

We all know that we have to meet National Environmental Standards for air quality which have been set by the Government and which reflect World Health Organisation guide lines for levels of PM10.

However, we also know that many of the complaints to the Pollution Hotline are about woodburners which are compliant as well those which are non-compliant. So as well as looking at the number of woodburners in the city, we need to focus on getting people to use their burner more efficiently so it is not adding pollution to the winter air.

Smoky chimneys are a concern since:

  • Smoke from home heating causes the majority of winter air pollution in Canterbury urban areas.
  • All chimneys make a difference to air quality. Everyone can make a difference and help clear the air.
  • Some people's chimneys smoke far more than others, but many people don't realise their chimney is smoky.
  • Cleaning up our air is a community effort. We can all play a part in helping our neighbours become aware of the issue and do something about it.

Find out more about the smoky chimney campaign on the Let's Clear the Air website.

Advice for People with wood burners in their homes

Environment Canterbury want people with wood burners to take ownership of the amount of smoke coming from their chimney. Many people whose chimney smokes a lot are not actually aware that this is happening. We want them to go outside, check out their chimney and then take steps to deal with the problem if it is smoking too much.

You can take the following steps to reduce the amount of smoke from your chimney:

  • Burn only dry seasoned wood.
  • Put rubbish in the bin, not on the fire.
  • Always burn untreated wood.
  • Don't damp down the fire before you go to bed.

You will know your fire is burning properly if:

  • When a fire is well underway, all you should see is a thin wisp of smoke or no smoke at all.
  • A low-smoke or no-smoke fire is one that is hot and burning brightly - a slow burning smouldering one produces lots of smoke. A hot fire will not only have less smoke, but will produce more heat and be more efficient.
  • Once you get the fuel right, you need to keep plenty of air moving through the fire, remember to refuel it before it goes out using wood which is dry enough and small enough to catch fire quickly. Don't fill the fire full of big logs or it will smoulder away and smoke a lot.
  • It is easy to do the right thing - but it takes some preparation and some work.

What to do if you have a neighbour with a smoky chimney

Environment Canterbury knows people are keen to help but want an easy way to let their neighbours know there is an issue.  There are several things they can do.

  1. Download a printable flier which they can drop into their neighbour's letterbox. This lets the homeowner know their chimney is smoking too much and gives five easy tips for dealing with the problem.
  2. Call the 24-hour Smoky Chimney Line on 080 329 276. All calls are confidential.

If you call the Smoky Chimney Line, Environment Canterbury will work with the homeowners to fix the problem and reduce the amount of smoke going into the air.

All households with smoky chimneys will be contacted and sent information to help them reduce their smoke.

Monitoring of chimneys will occur during winter

Teams of observers will be out in the evening in Christchurch from mid-June through the coldest part of the winter, looking for excessively smoking chimneys. The team will leave a leaflet in the letterbox with tips to reduce smoke.

Environment Canterbury officers will try to visit all these homeowners and talk them through the issue to help find a way to stop their chimney from polluting the air.  Officers will follow up these homeowners to ensure they are taking the appropriate steps.

If there continue to be complaints, then the usual enforcement process will be followed.  To date, most people have been willing to do what is required to solve the problem without the need to issue fines.

Organisations can also get involved in the smoky chimney campaign

Environment Canterbury would like businesses to encourage their staff and clients to check their own chimneys if they currently have a woodburner.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch