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Pollution from wood heaters has prompted dozens of complaints in Monash in the past five years

July 30, 2015
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Pollution from wood heaters has prompted dozens of complaints in Monash, including from one man who lives in “dread” of the smoke from a nearby property.

Monash Council has received 85 complaints about smoke from wood heaters in the past five years — an average of one every three weeks.

Mt Waverley father-of-two Douglas Crosher wants wood heaters banned after putting up with smoke from a nearby property for the past eight years.

Mr Crosher said he was concerned about the health effects of smoke on his family and bothered by the sheer nuisance of smoke permeating his house.

“It forces you to be on guard all the time to look out for smoke,” Mr Crosher said.

He said he had to whip around the house closing doors and windows and bringing in the washing, by which time the house was “already flooded with smoke”.

The particle counter Douglas Cosher uses to measure pollution from a nearby wood heater. Picture: Valeriu Campan Source: News Limited

Mr Crosher said adjustments such as extending the flue made little difference and he had used a laser particle counter to measure and map the smoke particles to prove his point.

He said wood heaters should be banned and people who argued they were “beautiful” were putting their “emotional needs” above other people’s health.

“Almost any installation (of a wood heater) is going to be a nuisance in this urban environment,” Mr Crosher said.

Monash Mayor Paul Klisaris said most of the 85 complaints in the past five years had been resolved by neighbours making an effort to reduce smoke and no cases had gone to court.

Cr Klisaris said some wood heaters were not properly installed or needed cleaning or adjustments such as extending the flue to beyond the neighbour’s roofline.

He confirmed a council investigation into Mr Crosher’s complaint had resulted in the wood heater flue being extended to comply with building regulations.

Cr Klisaris said banning use of wood heaters would require the council observing the smoke when the heater was operating and determining the level was dangerous to health or offensive.

“We are yet to witness those conditions in (Mr Crosher’s) case,” Cr Klisaris said.

Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Rosanna Bonaccurso said councils had the power to investigate and manage the issue of wood smoke emissions under residential nuisance laws.

Ms Bonaccurso said if a person was dissatisfied with the council’s response they could escalate the matter to a senior council manager or lodge a complaint with the Victorian Ombudsman.

The State Government is currently working with other states and territories to explore options for reducing emissions from wood heaters under the National Clean Air Agreement.

People can also phone EPA Victoria on 1300 372 842 to report air quality issues.

Mr Crosher has urged other residents concerned by pollution from wood heaters to register their complaint with the council and contact him via his website at woodsmokefree.com

Published by the Herald Sun, 29/07/2015