Break O'Day Council has resolved to see if where there is smoke there is fire when it comes to the longstanding wood heater debate.
The council voted unanimously to seek a report on wood heaters in the Break O'Day region to be able to educate residents about best practice.
Councillor Kylie Wright moved an initial motion which sought to have the council implement and enforce the Australian wood heater standards on any new or existing wood heaters in the Break O'Day area.
Existing Tasmanian regulations brought into effect in 2019 ensure wood heaters sold or made in Tasmania comply with the national standard.
The national standard was revised in 2019 to reduce emissions from wood heaters to a limit of 1.5 grams of particles per kilogram of wood burned.
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However, an amended motion from councillor Barry LeFevre, which is focused on understanding best practice and education, received unanimous support from the council.
At the meeting, Cr Wright said residents had raised concerns with her regarding the impact of wood heaters on their health.
"There are regulations that need to be met, need to be addressed that people probably aren't aware that there are things they can actually do to reduce smoke emissions," she said.
However, several councillors felt it was unfair to punish existing wood heaters which may not comply to the current wood heater standards.
"I am fine with the information side of it, new heaters complying with the standards, but what I would not like to see is additional costs brought to residents who already have wood heaters that don't comply to the new standards," councillor Janet Drummond said.
"It's about education and people putting new wood heaters in, I also wouldn't like to see people with existing wood heaters, who have had them for a long time, being unduly punished," Cr LeFevre said.
It is not the first time a council has tried to make headway on the wood heater debate.
The City of Launceston Council ran a wood heater buy-back scheme until 2013 when dwindling interest saw the program scrapped.
Despite health concerns, wood heaters remain a popular choice for Tasmanians with almost 30 per cent choosing wood fire over other forms of heating according to the state health department.
Those health concerns came to the fore in 2020 when a Menzies Institute report uncovered the impact of smoke on the Tasmanian population.
The report estimated biomass smoke was responsible for 69 deaths, 86 hospital admissions and 15 asthma emergency department visits each year in Tasmania at a cost of $293 million.
The report will be presented at a future council meeting.
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