Council cold on home fires
by Lachlan Heywood

Article from The Courier Mail, Brisbane 2nd July 2002

BRISBANE homeowners will be banned soon from building open fireplaces under a city council crackdown on chimney smoke. 

Proposed amendments to the City Plan will prohibit open fireplaces being built after 2004, while owners of excessively smoky wood heaters or fireplaces face fines of up to $300. 

Community Policy chairman David Hinchliffe said the fine particles in wood smoke were up to 12 times more toxic than cigarette smoke. 

‘There are romantic associations with open fires, but there is nothing romantic about the toxic emissions they cause.’ He said. 

Cr Hinchliffe said traditional fireplaces also were notoriously inefficient, with most of the heat being lost via the chimney. 

It is estimated that up to 25,000 Brisbane households use fireplaces or wood heaters in winter.  Yesterday, temperatures in Brisbane reached a low of 6C. 

Cr Hinchliffe said the council also was serious about ‘getting tough’ on toxic pollution caused by wood heaters. 

‘Under State Government legislation, we can fine people up to $300 for nuisance caused by these emissions,’ he said. 

But the Australian Home Heating Association and council Opposition yesterday attacked the measures, claiming a ban on brick fire places would have a negligible impact on pollution levels in Brisbane. 

Opposition Leader Margaret de Wit said chimney smoke was not a major issue in Brisbane, given the city’s short winter period. 

‘There are worse pollution issues in this city that they should be tackling, such as the pollution from their buses, which are not serviced properly,’ she said. 

The council receives about 400 complaints about chimney smoke each year.