Wood fires, cars under scrutiny in Clean Air Strategy
The humble fire place is in the frame as the Berejiklian government ramps up its bid for green credentials.
Also in line are cars as we know them, with a Bill Shorten style proposal to "harmonise'' our state with European vehicle emissions standards.
The ideas are contained in a confidential draft of the 10- year NSW Clean Air Strategy, authored by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and set to be taken to cabinet by Energy Minister Matt Kean as soon as next week.
The plan borrows from Bill Shorten's failed 2019 election strategy to urge the NSW government to advocate at a national level for "cleaner vehicle emission and fuel quality standards harmonising with the latest European standards".
It also proposes supporting the state's "transition to electric and cleaner vehicles", including "incentives for electric vehicle uptake".
At the household level, the strategy specifically singles out wood fire heaters as a major contributor to pollution in Greater Sydney and NSW regional centres.
The document proposes that the NSW government works with local councils to "better manage smoke from wood fire heaters" and "integrate air quality protections in the planning system".
While the document does not explicitly call for the heaters to be banned, it devotes an entire page to concerns about wood heaters and says the government will "continue to strengthen its partnership with local government and communities to reduce public exposure to residential wood smoke".
Mr Kean was not able to comment on the draft strategy directly, noting it was the "subject of cabinet processes".
However, he hosed down fears about wood fires, saying: "I do not support a ban on wood heaters." He did not rule out new vehicle emissions standards.
However, he said: "Any proposed changes to vehicle emission standards will only apply to new cars that are already available overseas.
Mr Kean went on to say: "Every NSW resident has the right to breathe air that does not make them sick".
The draft form of the document is likely to alienate MPs representing rural and regional seats, who will want certainty, particularly around wood fire heaters.
Asked if he could guarantee industry and agriculture would not be worse off under the strategy, Mr Kean said:
"I have no plans to impose new carbon emission requirements on farmers or NSW manufacturers."
It is not the first time the Energy Minister has had to hose down the green ambitions of his department or agencies.
On wood heaters, the draft strategy argues "a combination of public education, financial assistance to householders and regulatory measures will deliver long term and widespread wood smoke emission reductions".
Originally published as Wood fires, cars under scrutiny in Clean Air Strategy