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Air standards a step closer

25 February 2004 Media Statement

Air standards a step closer

Most people who made a submission on proposed national air standards support in principle the introduction of a 'level-playing field' on air quality, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

The Ministry for the Environment's 'summary of submissions' report was released today after an extensive consultative process on the government's policy to improve air quality.

The report is now available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website www.mfe.govt.nz and provides an overview of the key issues raised by the interested members of the public and stakeholders since the comment period began in October last year.

"Of the 1426 submissions received by the ministry, 1203 from Greenpeace have supported more stringent rules and in some cases bans for toxic activities which pose a risk to the environment and human health," Marian Hobbs said.

"The remaining submissions generally support national standards but have recommended some changes they believe would help make implementation easier at the local level. Only six submissions directly oppose national air standards."

Marian Hobbs said the fact that the majority of submissions received supported the idea of air standards was good news for New Zealand’s clean and green image.

"The introduction of air standards will be a great comfort to the many New Zealanders who suffer ill-health or asthma due to poor air quality," she said. "This is a major step towards achieving better air quality for all.

"The submission process has also highlighted some areas that need more work to get the regulation in place.

"The ministry will continue to work closely with local governments and interested parties to help them devise practical implementation strategies," she said. "The government is also exploring ways to assist with implementation of the standards."

The ministry is analysing the submissions and will likely suggest changes to the proposed standards before they are ready for Cabinet discussions in May.

Marian Hobbs said while the issue had been debated in New Zealand for many years, the national approach was again raised in 2002 when the ministry invited stakeholders to an exchange of views at breakfast briefings held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Many of the 600 who attended, called for the ministry to set national environmental standards. A similar message came in talks with local government throughout 2003, and at a series of public roadshows.

A copy of the report is available at www.mfe.govt.nz or by calling the Ministry for the Environment on 04-917-7493 or emailing publications@mfe.govt.nz

A summary of submissions report on proposed landfill gas standards was also published today and is available on the website.


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