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Antwerp considers bonus for banishing wood-burning stoves

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Tom Meeuws (sp.a), Antwerp Alderman for Environment, is considering a monetary reward for people who get rid of their wood-burning stoves.

Antwerp council member Mie Branders (PVDA) stated that it is “remarkable” that, while the low-emission zone is made more stringent, nothing has been done yet about polluting stoves. It was after this that Meeuws announced the idea.

“If we really want to diminish polluting particles in the air, we cannot avoid this discussion,” Meeuws said. “I realise it will not be easy, but we have to find a way to convince people. Maybe a financial contribution can help.”

According to Filip Meysman of the Antwerp University, who participated in the Curieuzeneuzen project in Flanders with 20,000 volunteers to measure air quality at home, banning wood-burning stoves would be sensible. “Those stoves may be homely, but also completely irresponsible,” he says. “In cities like London, they are simply forbidden.”

In spite of all the commotion about soot and particles in the air, the purchase of wood-burning stoves is increasing. One in six households uses a wood-burning or pellet-burning stove, which is twice as many as in 2017. “No wonder half of all particles in the air in Flanders are caused by open fires and wood-burning stoves,” explained Meysman. “They are an important source of pollution.”

According to coal trader Costermans-De Laet in Schilde, who also delivers liquid fuels, the demand for coal is decreasing year after year. “Only older people living in old houses still use coal. It is just a matter of time until all stoves will disappear.”

Sector federation Agoria, together with Flemish authorities, signed an agreement in 2018 to cut in half the emissions of wood-burning stoves for heating by 2030.

According to the Flemish Association for the Environment, thousands of Flemish citizens die early due to air pollution.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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