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Expert panel to provide wood smoke solutions

Expert panel to provide wood smoke solutions

An external advisory group of academics, health and building experts and the combustion stove industry has been formed to seek solutions to the issues of wood heater smoke in Armidale.

Last week’s Council meeting noted the formation of the group, which was initiated by Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray to provide independent advice, after air quality monitoring indicated wood smoke levels in the city exceeded National Air Quality Standards on many occasions every winter.

Several people have accepted the Mayor’s invitation to join the group, which met for the first time on 6 December and will be bolstered by additional members to ensure a broad investigation of the issue.

Council has been considering the issue of wood smoke from solid fuel heaters and its implications for Council policies and regulations for some time.

In his report to the meeting, Councillor Murray says Council staff have monitored the city’s air quality for several years and debate on how to reduce the levels of emissions from solid fuel heaters has been vigorous.

Council is developing a Local Approvals Policy for Solid Fuel Heating Appliances, which is proposed to include particle emission limits for new wood heaters sold in Armidale.

“However, this would only apply to new wood heaters. Older solid fuel heaters may have much higher contributions to reducing the air quality,” Cr Murray says.

“The question is how to reduce the emission in total in a city where many people love their wood heaters. For many households it is their most cost-effective form of heating.”

He says the external group would advise him on mechanisms and strategies to improve air quality in Armidale during winter. Other councillors could also utilise the group’s solutions to assist with their deliberations on the issue.

Last week’s Council meeting resolved to enable a two-way flow of information between councillors and the group, allowing Council to make submissions to the group and meet with its Chair.

The advisory group so far comprises:
Mahalath Halperin, Mahalath Halperin Architects (Chair)
Dr Navjot Bhullar, UNE
David Carr, Southern New England Landcare Ltd
Peter Ducat, former Ducats Earthmoving
John Grills, Barbecue Galore, Armidale
Dr David Hadley, UNE
Dr Jeffrey Kirkland, UNE
Prof Geetha Ranmuthulgala, UNE
Prof Don Hine, UNE




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