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Lowering, Delaying air quality standards costly

Lowering, Delaying air quality standards costly

Proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standard (NES) on air quality are another example of the Key Government trading off our health and prosperity for short-term cost cuts and private profits, said the Green Party today.

The Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, released a discussion document today on proposed changes to the NES on air quality, which would have otherwise come into force in 2013.

“The proposed changes essentially lower and delay the implementation of air quality standards, rather than providing solutions to achieve cleaner air,” said Green Party spokesperson on Resource Management, David Clendon.

The report’s preferred option includes an increase to three permitted days that air quality can be worse than the standard. Rather than prohibiting new polluting industry in critical areas where airshed standards are breached, it pushed back the compliance requirement to 2018 and only applies to new industry, which would be able to gain consent by purchasing “off-sets”.

“If air quality is already poor, it’s clearly not the fault of new industry,” said Mr Clendon.

“However, we aren’t going to get clean air and improved health by then allowing new industry to make things even worse.”

“Rather than lowering standards, the Government could offer support and incentives to assist industry and households to meet clean air targets.

“Lives and economic productivity are at stake,” said Mr Clendon.

The Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) report estimated that 1,100 Kiwis die prematurely each year because of air pollution, and many more children and adults suffer from debilitating asthma and respiratory illness.

“Air pollution is estimated to cost our economy over $1 billion a year,” said Mr Clendon.

“Clean air is essential to our economic and environmental wellbeing. Delaying and lowering standards costs us more in the long run.”


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