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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

8 April 2004

On a clear day in Launceston

Daily air quality forecasts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology will, from Tuesday 13 April, again be a feature of winter weather forecasts issued for Launceston.

Dr Sharman Stone MP, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology, said the forecasts issued by the Bureau predicted the amount of very small particles in the air over Launceston and helped alert residents to the impact of smoke on local pollution levels.

“Woodheaters are still popular in Launceston and because the Upper Tamar Valley is sheltered, smoke released into the air on a cold still winter's night can become trapped in the atmosphere,” Dr Stone said.

“These forecasts help raise awareness of how that smoke then affects the quality of the air, and are an important step in reducing local pollution levels from smoke.”

The air quality forecasts would appear as part of the 5 pm weather forecast for Launceston City and used a range of observed and predicted weather information including dew point temperature, wind speed, and air pressure, Dr Stone said.

“The forecasts will be one of three categories: Good; Moderate: or Poor. If a “Poor” rating is predicted the forecasts will contain advice on how residents might minimise the amount of wood smoke.”

Dr Stone said the Federal Government had been working with the Launceston community since 1997 to address the issue of local smoke pollution and the first results were positive.

The air quality forecasting model was designed by the Bureau of Meteorology in 1997; air quality data are collected and supplied by the Tasmanian Government

“Since 2001, the Federal Government had provided rebates of up to $500 per household to encourage Launceston residents to replace woodheaters with cleaner heating,” Dr Stone added.

“Around 1800 woodheaters have been replaced as part of the Launceston Woodheater Replacement Program. This is having a positive effect on local pollution levels with a 36 per cent reduction in woodheater related smoke since the program began.”

Dr Stone commended the work of the Bureau in helping to reduce local pollution levels at Launceston and thanked the Tasmanian Government for their continued input.

Commonwealth of Australia