‘Bigger danger than the M5’ - Wood Heaters:  Govt’s $700 bounty
Article in the St George and Sutherland Leader 2 July 2002
by Murray Trembath

MANY St George residents are being offered up to $700 by the State Government to trade in their old wood and coal burning heaters. 

Under the scheme, to combat air pollution around the M5 East motorway, residents will be helped to buy a new electric, gas or oil heater. 

The area covered by the scheme includes Canterbury and Marrickville council areas, and parts of Rockdale, Hurstville and Botany Bay. 

People who buy a new appliance to replace a wood or coal burning heater will be able to apply to the Roads and Traffic Authority for a $500 rebate. 

Pensioners will get a $700 rebate at the time of purchasing a heater from a dealer of their choice. 

The buy-back program is part of a package of air-quality initiatives introduced by the RTA as a condition of approval of the new motorway and its exhaust stack. 

Transport Minister Carl Scully said it was the first time a scheme of this type has operated in metropolitan Sydney. 

Replacing wood or coal solid fuel heaters has been identified as the most cost effective way of improving air quality in the residential precincts surrounding the M5 East, Mr Scully said. 

Rental properties are also eligible for the rebate provided the tenant and property owner agree and both sign the application to take part in the scheme. 

Mr Scully said the RTA would be working closely with local councils through the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) to implement the scheme. 

The program will run for up to five years, he said. 

This rebate is available only to ratepayers who currently use older-style solid fuel heaters as their main source of heat. 

They include open wood and coal fireplaces, potbelly stoves or combustion heaters which do not meet the current Australia standard. 

To receive the rebate, ratepayers will need to arrange an inspection of their current heating system and ensure the old heating system is disposed of properly by the installer. 

Replacement systems which are eligible for the cash rebate include electric heaters with thermostatic controls, night storage heaters, fixed flued gas or oil heaters, electric heat pumps, reverse cycle air-conditioners, ducted gas central heating, solar heaters, ceiling and/or under floor insulation.

Information packages and application forms can be obtained by phoning 1800 001 267, or from participating council libraries and customer service centres. 

Giving evidence to a Budget estimates committee last week, Mr Scully said wood and coal-fired heaters were probably a bigger pollution danger than the M5 East exhaust stack. 

If only 10 per cent of the users of wood or coal burning heaters took up the buy-back option, it was likely to reduce particulate matter in the area by far more than that contributed by the M5 East.