A new whole-of-Government strategy has been released to manage smoke from significant bushfire events and household woodfires.
Announced by Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti, the Bushfire Smoke and Air Quality Strategy 2021-2025 was developed by ACT Health; the Environment, Planning, and Sustainable Development Directorate; The Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate; and the Justice and Community Safety Directorate.
Ms Vassarotti said the Strategy provided the ACT with a way to manage the impacts of poor air quality on people’s health.
“Air quality in the ACT is generally excellent compared with other Australian cities and considered clean by world standards,” she said.
“There are, however, higher levels of smoke pollution in the winter months, largely due to the use of household woodfires.
“We also saw last year the impact bushfire smoke had on our region and this will remain a threat to our air quality as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of these events.”
Ms Vassarotti said that, over the next four years, Government would work on key Strategy actions, including measures to strengthen wood heater emission standards; enhance air quality monitoring and forecasting; develop air pollution resilient buildings; identify and support smoke refuges; and provide effective economic support to people affected by severe bushfire smoke.
“The Strategy will guide the ACT Government’s approach to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant bushfire smoke events and our management of the smoke from wood heaters,” she said.
Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith said the Strategy also aimed to support healthy communities by reducing the adverse effects of bushfire and woodfire smoke on human health.
“The severe smoke event from the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires showed the complex relationship between the health, environment, social and economic impacts of poor air quality,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The 38-page whole-of-Government Strategy can be accessed at this PS News link.