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Air quality proposals going to Council

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Media Release 19 November 2008

Air quality proposals going to Council

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will be deciding on measures to improve the winter air quality in Napier and Hastings at their meeting on Wednesday 26 November.

Proposed new regulations aim to reduce smoke levels in the air during winter by prompting people in the cities to upgrade their heating to modern, efficient wood burners or energy saving heating.

The proposed new air regulations will be notified on 10 December and open to public submissions until 2 March 2009. The extended submission period is to get around the summer holiday downtime and to encourage people to consider the new regulations and the implications.

Warm, dry, healthy homes are good for everyone and Councillors are strongly aware of the financial impacts on households of changing the way they heat their homes. Councillors are looking at how financial assistance may be provided to help people to not only change to clean heat but also to ensure their homes are well insulated.

New wood burners are more efficient but Councillors have been considering other complex aspects, such as the availability of good dry and untreated wood, people operating burners properly, the impact of switching to electric heating (such as heat pumps) with concerns about power shortages, and the choice of many people to collect free firewood.

The proposed regulations have been recommended to Council by the Environmental Management Committee as Draft Plan Change 2 to the current air quality regulations in the Regional Resource Management Plan, and a draft variation to the proposed Regional Coastal Environment Plan which also contains air emission rules.

Also recommended to Council is the adoption of a communications/marketing plan to ensure people know about the issue and the steps needed, an advocacy strategy plan for working with central Government, and financial assistance packages. Proposals for a financial assistance package are still being worked through and will be available for the public submission process.

The Committee is also considering adopting in principle a ‘time of sale’ rule as part of the overall package. This rule would ensure that future home buyers would be purchasing a house with heating that meets new regulations. Some work and discussion with local councils will be needed to assess how this would work practically.

Current Government regulations require all cities to meet strict National Environmental Standards for Air Quality by 2013. Regional Councillors will be asking the new Government to ease the regulations to make it easier for Hawke’s Bay to reduce air pollution.

Large changes will be needed to the type and use of home heating wood burners and open fires in Napier and Hastings to reduce smoke pollution or PM10 levels in winter by 2013.

ends

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