Fines for smoke
DRIVING home through the Orara Valley and seeing the smoke curling from chimneys as residents light their fires is a special part of coming home from town for Honi Reifler.
Wood gathered from the paddocks and solar power from the sun power her own home in the countryside outside Glenreagh, with wood fires used for cooking and heating.
Using wood, a free fuel for many country people, keeps down their heating costs, electricity and gas bills, as well as producing fewer greenhouse gases than using either gas or electricity.
But draft amendments to the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act would mean residents could face no- tices and fines if their chimney smokes visibly for more than 10 minutes 'including a period of not less than 30 seconds when the plume extends at least 10 metres'.
A wood heating industry representative said new approved wood heaters would comply with the regulation, but older models and open fires would not. Mrs Reifler said it would be impossible to comply with such a regulation at all times.
The National Party Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, says the proposal, including a fine of $3300 for the offence, was an example of over-regulation by the State Government.
Written comments on the consultation draft amendments, which can be read on www.environment.nsw.gov.au, must be received by the Department of Environment and Conservation's Legal Services Branch by July 22 by email, fax or post.