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Deniliquin Council says wood smoke has been worsened by forest closures

A final report on the harmful effects of wood smoke has shown there has been no improvement in the Deniliquin area.

TYLA HARRINGTON December 27, 2013 4:43am

Despite proactively trying to reduce potentially harmful effects of wood smoke, Deniliquin Council says there has been no improvement in the local area.

Council director technical services Mark Dalzell admitted that despite education campaigns in the last 12 months, wood smoke pollution has not reduced.

He said the lack of success could be linked to the conversion of state forests to National Parks three years ago.

Mr Dalzell said without an adequate source of wood from National Parks, and little other self-harvesting options for residents, people are resorting to sub-standard wood to heat their homes.

The results of the program to date support council’s push to have Deniliquin connected to the natural gas network.

Council joined the wood smoke program after the NSW Government announced its Wood Smoke Reduction scheme.

Under the scheme, anyone not complying with efforts to reduce wood smoke coming from their homes could potentially be fined.

Council received funding from the government to implement the scheme, but Mr Dalzell said the results have been dismal.

His report to council said the forest was the source of ‘‘good, dry wood that was easily accessible for the district’’ before it was converted to National Parks in 2010.

Firewood collection was banned from most areas of local forests after the conversion.

‘‘Wood heaters have become the most dominant source of heating and are generally used by 75 per cent of the residents within the town limits,’’ Mr Dalzell said in his report.

‘‘Recent changes to legislation has closed access to the red gum forests as it is now a National Park and this has reduced the town’s ability to harvest the best wood for their heaters.

‘‘This has forced the wood heater owners to use wood that is wet, not seasoned or of poor quality which has increased the smoking chimneys in the town.’’

The report was presented to Deniliquin Council at its monthly meeting this month.

Mr Dalzell said feedback from the program included complaints about sourcing the wood through red gum forests and in some instances people did not feel there was a smoke problem in Deniliquin.

Results from the program showed there were ‘‘no observations made of a reduction in wood smoke during this time’’.

Council will not apply for funding for the 2014 Wood Smoke Reduction program.

Councillors agreed the only effective alternative to wood heating is a natural gas connection to Deniliquin.

Gas lines currently stop at Finley and Moama.

Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick has long maintained natural gas is necessary for Deniliquin, since before the National Parks were opened.

He said the conversion only spurred council’s efforts on further.

Cr Renwick said as well as offering a reliable and affordable heating option, natural gas would help attract industry to Deniliquin.

Wood Smoke Program results in next Tuesday’s edition.

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