75 Polluting Woodheaters Already Scrapped, Woodsmoke Incentive Scheme

Tumut & Adelong Times, Friday, May 3, 2002

The Government's Woodsmoke Reduction Program has attracted more than 600 potential applicants, with 46 of these coming from the Tumut Shire, in its first seven weeks of operation, while 75 polluting wood heaters have already been scrapped, Minister for the Environment Bob Debus announced.

Launched in early March, the innovative $1million program offers residents cash incentives of up to $700 each to replace their old polluting wood heaters with cleaner forms of heating. It is being run in conjunction with the Tumut, Blue Mountains, Armidale Dumaresq, Cooma-Monaro, Lithgow and Orange councils.

"Woodsmoke is an important environmental and health issue and is the major source of winter air pollution in colder regional centres," Mr Debus said.

"There's been a groundswell of support from these communities to reduce air pollution by adopting cleaner forms of heating," he said.

"It is heartening to see residents working with their local councils to clear the air. We're thrilled with the response."

Mr Debus said that of the 600 information packs sent out, councils had received a total of 320 applications back. "That's 320 people saying they're prepared to reduce air pollution by replacing their old wood heaters with new forms of heating," he said.

Mr Debus said that most of the 320 applications had received the green light. Twenty-three cheques had already been delivered, and he expected that up to 1000 more would be issued in coming months.

The Minister said 14 heaters had been replaced already in the Tumut Shire, whilst four house-holders had been issued with cash incentives.

Mr Debus said council officers in each town were conducting home inspections to assess applicants' eligibility.

"Although the campaign was funded by the Government, local councils had also taken it upon themselves to raise awareness of Woodsmoke pollution." he said.

The Woodsmoke Reduction Program will run until the end of August. Residents in the shires where the scheme is operating who want information about the cash incentive scheme should contact their council. Further general information on the program is available via the EPA Pollution Line on 131 555.