Environment Waikato today presented a $27,000 cheque to Waitomo District Council so Te Kuiti people on low incomes can benefit from government funding aimed at helping people insulate their homes and convert to cleaner forms of heating.
Waipa-King Country constituency councillor Andra Neeley said the money was a one-off example of “something good coming out of something bad”.
The money is the proportion of the fine Te Kuiti Meat Processors Limited (TKMP) was ordered to pay Environment Waikato in May this year following a successful prosecution for a high profile effluent spill that affected Te Kuiti’s town water supply for several days last year.
“Environment Waikato is pleased to redirect the fine money back into Te Kuiti and into a project that will ultimately improve the town’s air quality and people’s health.”
The regional council is spending $1.2 million over four years in a bid to help reduce air pollution caused by home fires in the region's urban centres.
The funding is to help convert inefficient fuel burners to clean heating appliances, such as heat pumps and low-emission wood burners.
“Environment Waikato has money earmarked for Te Kuiti, but the grants for clean heat are only available for insulated homes – the $27,000 will enable Waitomo District Council to access funding through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority for insulation retrofitting,” Cr Neeley said.
Waitomo District mayor Mark Ammon said the council appreciated the financial assistance.
“Waitomo District Council acknowledges the need to improve air quality, both for public health reasons and to secure future development opportunities for local and new industries in Te Kuiti,” he said.
“With EECA assistance also, these funds will produce very positive outcomes for a number of Te Kuiti families.”
Te Kuiti’s air quality has failed to meet the national standard twice this winter, mainly because of smoke from home fires.
Smoke contains invisible particles (PM10) small enough to get into human lungs, which contribute to serious health problems such as respiratory illnesses, asthma and heart disease.
The Government has put targets in place to reduce air pollution in New Zealand by 2013 and if these aren’t met, Environment Waikato will not be able to grant air discharge resource consents in towns not meeting the targets.
This could affect new and existing businesses, industries and jobs in Te Kuiti.