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Air Quality Review – proposed rules amended

Media Release

Air Quality Review – proposed rules amended

Environment Southland has been reviewing its proposed changes to the Regional Air Quality Plan for Southland.

Environment Southland Director of Policy, Planning and Regulatory Services Vin Smith said there had been some refining of the proposed rules outlined last week.

Of significance is the decision to remove the proposed rule requiring the installation of NES-approved burners on all properties throughout Southland under 2 hectares. The 2 hectare rule was a late addition and has been removed in order to further consult with the district and city councils. From 6 September 2014, NES-approved burners are required to be installed in homes in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds. For maps of the airshed boundaries please visit BreatheEasySouthland.co.nz

Mr Smith said the use of open fires will still be banned in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds from September next year, and non-compliant burners will be phased out through until 2029.

Smoke from home chimneys is the major cause of air pollution in the built-up areas of Invercargill and Gore, particularly during the winter months. A 2011 emission inventory found that domestic heating was the main source of PM10 emissions in Invercargill (92%) and Gore (96%). Other sources include motor vehicles (2% and 1%), outdoor burning (<1% and 1%) and industrial/commercial (6% and 1%).

The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES) allows for only one exceedance of the standard for PM10 per year. Both airsheds regularly breach the PM10standard. So far this year, Invercargill has had 13 exceedances and Gore only 1. “This year, it’s looking good for Gore, but to meet the NES the Gore airshed would have to maintain this result for five consecutive years,” Mr Smith said.

“The installation of NES-approved burners and the phasing out of non-compliant burners is designed to improve air quality, which will have health benefits for all Southlanders,” Mr Smith said.

Environment Southland has also adopted a phase-out approach to the use of high sulphur content coal for home heating. This approach will give coal users time to use up their existing stocks until 1 January 2015, after which Southlanders will only be allowed to use coal with low sulphur content to heat their homes. This applies to all properties and not just those in the airsheds. Smoke and odour from burning high sulphur content coal can be a problem in many of our region’s small towns. “By stopping its use, we are another step closer to cleaner, healthier air,” Mr Smith said.

Proposed changes to the Regional Air Quality Plan for Southland are mostly about home heating and outdoor burning. It’s not too late for people to their say. People have from 6 September until 3 November 2014 to make a written submission. Submissions can be made online at www.es.govt.nz using a new online submission system based on cloud technology. Submissions will be stored in a fully centralised management system allowing for easier coordination and capturing of submissions.

For information about air quality and the new proposed rules please visit BreatheEasySouthland.co.nz

ENDS


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