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Actions to improve Rotorua air quality

MEDIA RELEASE

Actions to improve Rotorua air quality

For immediate release: 11 December 2008

Incentives to upgrade home heating to help combat Rotorua’s serious air quality problem is a highlight of the draft Rotorua Air Quality Action Plan, which Environment Bay of Plenty is considering releasing for public comment next year.

At its meeting next week, the regional council will decide if it wants the draft Plan to be open for public submission as part of its Ten Year Plan process, which will take place in April 2009. Rotorua District Council is also looking to undertake the same process.

The actions are aimed at removing 60 tonnes of fine particles from Rotorua’s air. Some proposed actions include:
• offering homeowners loans on rates or a loan against the property to upgrade their heating method;
• government grants to upgrade heating methods in low-income housing;
• raising community awareness of the issues and the actions they can take;
• encouraging people to only buy or sell dry wood;
• working with industries to help further reduce their emissions; and
looking at by-laws to improve air quality.

Sixty percent of Rotorua’s air pollution comes from domestic sources, in particular fires for home heating and backyard burning; 24 percent from industry and 12 percent from transport. On 45 days in the 2008 winter the quantities of these dangerous fine particles in Rotorua city’s air exceeded government-set standards.

Environment Bay of Plenty Councillor and Rotorua Air Quality Joint Standing Committee Chairman Neil Oppatt said some people believed it was caused by the sulphur from the natural geothermal features of the area, this was not the case.

“The action plan is about setting the way for the future. It’s a mix of incentives and rules to improve the quality of Rotorua’s air and at the same time meet government standards,” Mr Oppatt said. “The intent is not to eliminate steel box fireplaces but we do want to ensure that they meet the Government’s standard for clean burning,” he said

Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said the district’s air pollution was a serious issue.

“The community expect the air they breathe to be as good as it looks. They do not expect it to harm their health,” Mr Winters said.

“I know that many residents like myself find it hard to believe that right here in Rotorua we could have an air problem let alone one bad enough to do harm. We do have a problem and the action plan provides Rotorua District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty and the community with actions to help fix this problem,” Mr Winters said.

“The draft action plan ensures that this takes place in the most cost effective manner for both councils and the community, without imposing undue hardship on the community.”

ENDS

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