Rotorua by-Law change threatens public health

April 13, 2018

Rotorua by-Law change threatens public health

Heating Specialist Matt Hanson thinks the by-law change is a bad fit for the people of Rotorua. Photo: Caroline Fleming

The Rotorua council’s new regulation banning all wood fire installations has a local business fearing for public health.

Rotorua Heating Solution’s Matt Hanson says that the city has such a lower-socio economic population that they simply can’t afford to run on heat pumps alone.

“Residents are coming in and getting aggressive at us simply because we aren’t allowed to sell them a wood fire anymore.

“Landlords all over the city are installing heat pumps into their rental properties, when the families can’t afford the electricity to run them.”

“It’s a really worrying thought how cold these homes are going to get throughout the winter and the impact this will have on the children, who are especially vulnerable to winter sickness,” says Mr Hanson.

A recent Rotorua council report stated that over 50% of Rotorua homes have a wood fire as their sole source of heating.

Rotorua Council’s Customer Solutions manager James Shelford says that with the state of Rotorua’s air pollution something needed to change.

“Rotorua has the worst air quality in the whole of the North Island, mainly caused by home heating.”

Mr Shelford says around 8000 homes need to convert to clean heating appliances for the council to achieve their air quality goals.

“The air quality alone is having shocking health affects, specifically on those who already suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma.”

Student doctor Joey Faithfull says the colder months always bring an influx of viruses, such as flu and strep throat.

“An increase in families living in cold, non-heated homes will definitely see a spike in winter illness rates and hospital visits.”

The regional council has implemented a hot-swap scheme that encourages residents to swap their wood fires for a source of clean heating with an interest-free loan.

The government recently announced a ‘winter energy payment’ that families will be able to apply for to help with the cost of heating their homes during winter.

The payment families can receive is up to $31.82 a week.

The winter energy payment will be available from July 1.

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