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School and hospital boilers will not have to close

19 August 2005

Fact sheet: School and hospital boilers will not have to close

School and hospital boilers will not have to close as a result of national environmental standards for air quality.

Comments have been reported in the media that regional councils may have to close school and hospital boilers to help them meet the standard for fine air particles (smoke).

This is not the case. There is no requirement in the standard for councils to close school or hospital boilers, Ministry Chief Executive Barry Carbon says.

The standard requires councils to gradually reduce the quantity of fine air particles in their defined air ‘areas’ (called an air shed) until they meet a set threshold by the year 2013. The threshold is an average of 50 micrograms of fine air particles per cubic metre of air over any daily 24-hour period.

It is up to councils how they achieve the threshold. Councils have a range of options to achieve the standard. Solid fuel burners, such as wood burners, are the main source of smoke in urban areas. Vehicles are significant contributors in Auckland.

Councils have flexibility to achieve the standard. They can allow for offsets – where a council or company applying for resource consent to emit fine particles can make arrangements to offset or reduce pollution in an area.

Examples of offsets include modernising bus fleets, fitting catalytic converters to buses or council vehicles or replacing open fires with cleaner burning alternatives.

ENDS

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