With the release of the NSW Clean Air Strategy 2021-2030 the NSW government has missed an important opportunity to make a real impact on air pollution levels by failing to implement any effective action to reduce the 46% of PM2.5 air pollution from the 4.4% of households with wood heaters in Sydney. This compares with 20% for vehicles (see figure 15, pg. 40 of the Strategy ). Despite acknowledging that fine particles (PM2.5) have the largest health impacts (pg. 4) Chapter 4 of the Strategy 'Healthier Household' opens with the following sentences: 'For some people, particularly in rural areas, wood heaters are the only viable and cost-efficient form of heating. The NSW Government recognises the importance of wood heaters in some communities and has no intention to implement a statewide ban'. The fact that the government felt the need to open with this sentence is about appeasing the vocal minority that raised alarm about this issue in the conservative media. The three 'actions' to address wood smoke pollution (page 25) include: Empower local government; Integrate air quality protections in the planning system; and Improve knowledge about the impacts of wood smoke, without any detail about how these 'actions' will be achieved. Instead the strategy simply details work the government has already completed such as the 2016 amendment to the POEO Clean Air Regulation. It seems that the government thinks we should just put our faith in the existing policy of 'proper wood heater operation and maintenance to ensure the benefits of strict emissions standards are realised'. When the government's own Air pollution Inventories show that air pollution is increasing from wood heaters it is not good enough to keep rolling out the same ineffective policy.
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