A combination of favourable weather conditions and the success of Environment Canterbury’s Clean Heat Project* is being credited for the smallest number of high pollution nights in Christchurch since monitoring started in 1988.
Christchurch experienced only 13 high air pollution nights between May 1 and August 31, with the highest concentration recorded on July 23. These measurements were taken at the representative site of St Albans, which last year recorded 27 high air pollution nights. The worst winter was 2001, when 51 high pollution nights were recorded.
Environment Canterbury’s director operations, Ken Lawn, says the number of high pollution nights depends a lot on the type of weather we get. “The fewer frosty days, fewer temperature inversions and more cloud we experience, the less pollution results,” he says. ”However there is no doubt that the number of conversions to cleaner heat, also contributed to the reduction in Christchurch’s pollution."
He says Environment Canterbury’s Clean Heat Project has now done more than 10,000 conversions from open fires and older solid fuel burners since it started in 2003.
*ECan’s Clean Heat Project offers financial assistance to homeowners and landlords to make the change to cleaner forms of heating from open fires or solid fuel burners. Options include a full or partial heating and insulation subsidy, depending on the home-owner’s income level; or an interest-free loan for insulation and heating which is paid back through the home-owner’s rates bills; or a landlord subsidy.