$1300 fines possible in wood-smoke crackdown

$1300 fines possible in wood-smoke crackdown

Homeowners who use wood heaters could be slapped with a $1300 fine if their chimneys are spotted blowing visible smoke for more than 10 minutes.

Under state pollution control laws, anyone with smoke coming out of their chimneys for this time can expect a visit from an environmental officer, who will instruct them to modify either their heater or chimney within 21 days.

Failure to comply would see the homeowner receive a fine of up to $1300.

A state government spokesman said the move was the first phase of a wider effort to control domestic wood heater emissions, with Launceston and Hobart the focus for the project.

He said enforcement from fines was a matter for the Launceston and Hobart councils.

State opposition energy spokesman Matthew Groom said it was unfair to threaten people using wood heaters with fines as energy prices skyrocketed.

''At the same time that the (federal) government is imposing an unfair carbon tax on carbon-free hydro power, they are also set to ramp up a campaign to target people using wood heaters to warm their homes,'' he said.

''They appear to have no understanding of the power price pain people are feeling right now.''

The state government spokesman said the program to reduce the effect of smoke from domestic wood heaters across Tasmania was more for education, not enforcement.

''Lessening the smoke from wood heaters is good for the community's health,'' the spokesman said

''One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to help people improve the performance of their wood heaters.

''However, it should be clear that education and informal warnings will usually be the first step in implementing the regulations, with formal action taken only where people persist in operating their wood heaters in a way that causes excessive smoke.''

Advice on lowering domestic wood-smoke emissions can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency's website.