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Clean Air Loans Invercargill Scheme launches

Source: stuff.co.nz

Clean-air-loansInvercargill's most vulnerable residents and the elderly will be among those able to install cleaner home heating through low interest loans, the proponents of a news scheme say.

Clean Air Loans Invercargill Scheme launched at a ceremony at the Invercargill Fire Station on Friday.

Low interest loans will be available to homeowners within the Invercargill airshed who want to upgrade to approved burners or heat pumps and/or improve their insulation.

Ratepayers who qualify can borrow up to $5000, which will be paid back over a five-year period at a 3.95 per cent interest rate.

The scheme is jointly funded by Environment Southland and the Invercargill City Council, which have allocated $500,000 each per year for the next three years.

The Southland Regional Air Plan decisions were released in October, meaning non-compliant burners and open fires will be phased out during the next 18 years. 

This means many people in the Invercargill and Gore airshed will be required to upgrade their heating.

Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms said in developing the Air Plan, the council had worked hard to achieve a balance between warm homes and improving air quality.

"We all want to breathe clean air, but we understand that making the necessary changes to home heating isn't easy."

The loan scheme would help people to make the change to cleaner heating, she said.

While the scheme only incorporated the Invercargill airshed, Timms was hopeful the Gore airshed would come on board.

Environment Southland had been talking to the Gore District Council about including a similar scheme in the council's annual plan for 2016-2017, she said.

"I'm hoping the residents of Gore support this proposal."

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said city councillors were concerned about the potential impact of the clean air rules on some of the city's most vulnerable residents, especially the elderly and others who rely on non-approved heating sources for warmth.

The council's main priority was insulation and improving the housing stock of the city, he said.

The city council had agreed to fund the Clean Air Loans Scheme and also to allow low interest loans to be charged to individual ratepayers because, while air quality was important, it was vital people should not suffer during Invercargill's cold winters.

Awarua Synergy will administer the scheme as service providers for the Southland Warm Homes Trust.

Awarua Synergy manager Sumaria Beaton said anybody who lived within the Invercargill airshed and had a non-compliant burner or open fire in their main living room could apply if they were an Invercargill City Council ratepayer and did not have any rates in arrears.

As part of the application process, the team from Awarua Synergy will work with the homeowner to establish the most efficient and effective form of clean heating for their home.

"Every house and every family's needs and lifestyles are different and we need to find a heat source that will give them the best result," she said.