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Air Quality Review reaches a new milestone

Air Quality Review reaches a new milestone – New rules in place

Environment Southland councillors agreed to notify proposed changes to the Regional Air Quality Plan for Southland at a meeting last week.

The Plan includes new rules to address air quality issues associated with home heating, outdoor burning, and some farm practices in Southland. The changes will be notified on 6 September 2014 and some of the rules will take immediate effect from that date.

Regional councils are required to take action in the urban areas that are failing to meet the goals in the Government’s National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES). It allows for only one exceedance of the PM10 standard each winter, both Invercargill and Gore regularly exceed the required standard.

Environment Southland Chairman Ali Timms said, “We’re not the first regional council to introduce rules to improve air quality, in fact, we’re one of the last to get some rules in place. But air quality monitoring over the past five years in Invercargill and Gore in particular, show that it’s not improving and the Government has set deadlines for us to act.”

It’s important to know the new rules will mean the use of open fires in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds will be banned from September 2015 and non-compliant burners will be phased out through until 2029.

Other rules will take immediate effect, such as the requirement to install only a NES approved burner when installing a new burner or replacing an existing burner or fireplace in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds. This also applies to all properties under 2 hectares throughout Southland including those in townships, rural properties and small lifestyle blocks. Rules relating to the application of agrichemicals and fertilisers and what fuels and materials can be burnt also come into effect immediately.

“We know it won’t be easy for everyone to make the changes the rules set out so Environment Southland has been working with other organisations and councils to facilitate support and help for those needing it. This is why the introduction of most of the new rules is staggered to give people time to make the changes necessary to their home heating systems,” said Chairman Timms.

“Some of the new rules begin from 6 September, but it’s important to remember that you have until 3 November to make a submission about any aspect of them.”

ends

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