Posted by: Matthew | January 1, 2010

Why does the AHHA have such a privileged position?

When I was going through the nightmare of trying to get my neighbours to stop polluting my house I was frustrated how at every turn the Australian Home Heating Association was there to “help”. Complain to the Tea Tree Gully City Council and you get the AHHA propaganda sent to your home. Complain to the South Australian Environment Protection Agency and you get referred to information from the AHHA. Nobody helped except for the people who were absolutely no help at all.

Even now if you complain to the, for instance,  Onkapringa Council they suggest contacting the AHHA about wood smoke pollution. Or they suggest contacting the EPA. Yet the SA EPA still suggests going to the AHHA. I recommend don’t. Instead I recommend going straight to the last suggestion on this page and take your problem neighbour straight to the Environment Resources and Development Court, which is the court I should have gone straight to when I had my problems. It’ll save time and frustration if you successfully get an injunction straight away.

Other government departments and other local councils do it. For instance a 20 second google search found:

The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management does it too.

The Adelaide Hills Council.

Greater Bendigo too.

But the AHHA’s advice is bad. They encourage people to keep burning off, when the problem that people are complaining about is the fact that their neighbours burn off. The polluters shouldn’t be encouraged to keep on burning. That is what the problem is. They should be encourage to stop burning. The combination of the heater and the idiot using it is a lethal combination. Can’t any local council or state EPA say it outright? – Stop burning.

The Standard AS/NZS 4013 for the design of wood burning stoves is not a guarantee of no pollution. I lived next door to one and it made my life a misery.

And the AHHA consistently thwarts all attempts at tightening the law, and they undermine community initiatives, like in Tuggernanong and Launceston to improve air quality.

See this report from the Armidale, NSW air quality group about how  the AHHA stood in the way of tightening Sydney’s air pollution limits.

It seems they don’t care about air quality at all, yet they pretend they’re the experts.

From this amazingly self-contradictory form of Orwellian doublespeak press release: “The Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) want nothing more than for Australians to be able to breathe the air without having to inhale other people’s smoke.” If that were true, they would join me in saying that all wood burners should be banned outright and immediately. So I guess it isn’t true.

So why does the Australian Home Heating Association have such a privileged position as being the go to people for dealing with air pollution complaints? In my instance they were not interested in helping me, and I believe they misrepresented their intentions to the City of Tea Tree Gully when they offered to help with my smoke complaint. Instead they were a hindrance, standing in the way of any true solution for the terrible pollution situation I was having rammed up my nostrils. Instead they started harassing me, threatening me, and I even had their director ringing me up on my mobile phone and calling me a c*nt.

Is it laziness on behalf of all those councils and government departments that refer people on to the AHHA, or is it that they don’t really understand the duplicitous nature of the AHHA, and how they act in its members interests and not in the interest of the general community?

Or maybe they actually buy the propaganda that a AS/NZS 4013 compliant wood heater operated properly is actually non-polluting. It isn’t.

I assert that  a AS/NZS 4013 compliant wood heater cannot be operated by the average mug punter in anyway to minimise smoke.

I assert that people cannot be trusted to only burn clean dry wood. My neighbours have burnt treated timber, and plastic. And painted wood, and wet wood, and rubbish, and newspapers.

I assert that a AS/NZS 4013 compliant wood heater even used as directed, is still too polluting to be used in a residential situation. That standard is too weak. It is better to not have any wood heaters at all.

I assert that all wood burners should be banned. Including the so called clean ones.

I also assert that local councils and state government departments should very much be very careful about who they refer wood smoke victims on to. They should definitely never pass on personal details of anyone who complains to the AHHA. The AHHA has not shown itself to be a constructive agent of improvement. It may have successfully sold a new  AS/NZS 4013 compliant wood heater to a homeowner who had an old smoke belcher, but now all they have is a new smoke belcher.

I don’t understand this privileged position the AHHA has as the uber-authority on wood smoke complaints. They are part of the problem, and not part of the solution. I put it down to the good and trusting nature of those people working in local and state governments. But the AHHA is right, education is the key to improving air quality. Educating people that there is no clean way to use a wood burning stove, and educating people about the AHHA.


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