Municipalities in Małopolska support residents in replacing stoves

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Only 12 months are left until the obligation to replace old coal and wood burning stoves that do not meet emission standards of at least class 3 comes into force. The anti-smog resolution adopted by the Sejmik of the Małopolskie Voivodeship in January 2017 introduced a 6-year transition period for the replacement of non-class “kopciuchów”. This period will expire at the end of 2022, which means that after 1 January 2023 only boilers of at least class 3 will be legal to use. Class 3 and 4 boilers may be used a few years longer, until the end of 2026. The class of the boiler can be checked on the nameplate or in the documentation of the appliance. If it is not specified, it means that the boiler is out of class and should be replaced on the first date.

Assistance of Eco-managers in communes

The air protection program adopted in September 2020 introduced additional tasks for municipalities, which are to provide assistance to residents in adapting to the requirements of the anti-smog resolution. First and foremost, a Clean Air Programme service point should be established in each municipality in Małopolska, and an Eco-managers should be employed to assist the residents in completing and submitting the necessary formalities related to the application for financial support for replacement of the heating source or thermo-modernization.

The tasks of municipalities are primarily to help their residents to obtain funding and to replace the old furnace – says Deputy Marshal of Małopolska Region, Józef Gawron – There is little time left to arrange the formalities associated with the grant and to plan renovation work. In the coming months, this support for the residents will be especially needed

180 out of 182 communes in Małopolska have signed an agreement with the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Cracow, on the basis of which they run an official service point of the Clean Air Programme. The necessary documents can be submitted there, and assistance and explanations can be obtained.

In addition, 170 municipalities in Małopolska hire eco-managers whose role is to help residents comply with the requirements of the anti-smog resolution. They advise on the selection of an environmentally friendly source of heat, assist in obtaining subsidies, and conduct educational and informational activities to ensure that everyone is aware of the health hazards posed by smog and the requirements of the anti-smog regulations. There are already 232 eco-managers in Małopolska’s municipalities, 66 of whom are employed under the LIFE project coordinated by the Marshal’s Office. Support for the employment of eco-managers in all municipalities is also planned under the new EU funds perspective for Malopolska.

Co-financing of furnace replacement

The main source of financing for furnace replacement and building insulation is the nationwide Clean Air Programme. It allows to obtain co-financing up to PLN 30 thousand in the basic variant and up to PLN 37 thousand in the higher variant for persons with lower income. By the end of October this year Małopolska residents have already submitted 37.5 thousand applications for the Clean Air Programme.

Replacement of furnaces is also supported under the EU funds of the Regional Operational Program managed by the Marshal’s Office. A total of more than 70 million Euro has been allocated for this purpose in the 2014-2020 perspective. However, in December 2021, the Board of the Malopolska Region decided to transfer the amount of more than 60 million PLN to 35 municipal boiler replacement projects from the reserve list. In addition, PLN 3.7 million will be transferred to the municipalities of Krakow’s obwarzanek for furnace replacement projects.

Additional EU funds for the replacement of furnaces will allow us to support all communal projects from the reserve list. Now the rate of investment and improvement of air quality in Małopolska will depend on the determination and involvement of local governments and residents,” adds Deputy Marshal of Małopolska Józef Gawron.

Inspections of furnaces

Another important element of preparing communes for the entry into force of the anti-smog resolution is the organization of a system of environmental compliance inspections. The obligation to conduct such inspections results from the Environmental Protection Law. The inspections may be carried out daily from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Violation of the regulations means the possibility of imposing a fine in the amount of up to PLN 500 or referring the case to court, which may impose a fine of up to PLN 5,000.

According to the provisions of the Air Protection Program, the municipalities of Malopolska should prepare procedures for control of furnaces on the basis of uniform guidelines prepared by the Marshal’s Office. Such procedures have already been prepared by 171 municipalities in Małopolska and adopted in the form of mayoral ordinances.

179 municipalities also have appointed municipal officers or guards who inspect furnaces. Altogether in Małopolska over 1100 officers and guards have appropriate authorizations from the head of the commune, mayor or town mayor, which enable them to enter the property and inspect the stove according to the regulations. The highest number of such persons has Kraków (374), Tarnów (46), Nowy Sącz (27) and Skawina (25).

Number of Eco-managers and persons authorized for control in Małopolska

Recently, there were also trainings organized by the Marshal’s Office on the principles of control. In October 2021, a total of 511 employees of municipal offices, municipal guards and police officers were trained. This was the second edition of such trainings, during the previous ones, in 2019, 474 people were trained.

It is worth remembering that in case of suspicion of illegal waste burning it is worth notifying the control services in the municipality. The notification can be made in various ways – by phone, e-mail or in writing, but the Eco-Intervention application prepared by the Marshal’s Office can also be used for this purpose. It enables sending a notification which is automatically forwarded to the appropriate service in the commune. Eco-intervention notifications have already helped to detect more than 1,000 violations of environmental regulations, of which more than 400 were related to air pollution. The air protection program indicates the need to carry out inspections under the Eco-Intervention within 12 hours of notification. Unfortunately, this deadline cannot always be met, but as many as three quarters of inspections are carried out within 3 days of notification. The inspectors have also the possibility to take ash samples, which enable to detect illegal waste burning.

Notifications in the Eco-Intervention application in the category of air pollution