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Fuel Specifications Review falls short

Fuel Specifications Review falls short of Auckland’s expectations

May 15, 2002

Auckland Regional Council Chair Gwen Bull says the Government’s fuel specification review announced today is a big let down for Aucklanders worried about air quality in the region.

Cr Bull says the ARC is keen to work closely with Government to address the issue of Auckland’s air quality but she says the fuel specifications produced by the Ministry of Economic Development appear to fall well short of what realistically could be achieved.

“What they are proposing doesn’t even meet the standards they set in their draft document last year,” Cr Bull says.

“Many of the specifications can be achieved by the New Zealand Refinery company much sooner than the Government is requiring.”

In the draft review document last year the Ministry proposed an immediate reduction of sulphur levels in petrol to 150 parts per million with a further reduction to 50ppm by 2006/07. In today’s document the specification has been set at an immediate reduction to 350ppm (this is worse than the standard already being produced in New Zealand) and the reduction to 150ppm put back to 2006.

ARC Air Quality manager Kevin Mahon says the Government’s review is riddled with similar examples where not only has the ARC’s submission been ignored but the Government’s has gone backwards from its own proposal last year.

Cr Bull is calling on the Ministry to explain the apparent backslide.

“These numbers are a worry for Aucklanders because Auckland suffers most from the health effects of vehicle emissions,” Cr Bull says.

“The Government’s own Health effects due to motor vehicle air pollution in New Zealand” report highlighted an invisible road toll of 253 people who die prematurely as a result of vehicle emissions in Auckland,” Cr Bull says.

“Today’s announcement does not go anywhere near far enough to address that.”

Cr Bull is calling on the Government to explain why the review has failed to meet the standards it set for itself last year and why Aucklanders will have to wait longer than necessary for cleaner fuels.

“We have a clear mandate from Aucklanders to do everything we can to improve air quality,”

“We will continue to advocate for cleaner fuels sooner and endeavour to work with Government on vehicle emission controls.

“In particular we are keen to work with Government towards better vehicle maintenance, especially an emissions test as part of warrant of fitness testing and tougher laws on diesel used imports.”

Cr Bull says while the ARC will do what it can to improve Auckland’s air quality, motorists can make a positive difference themselves by ensuring they tune their vehicles every six months.

ENDS

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