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New Air Plan supports continuing improvement

New Air Plan supports continuing improvement in Canterbury air quality

Environment Canterbury has today accepted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Commissioners on the proposed Canterbury Air Regional Plan, which aims to help to continue to improve air quality in the region.

The Air Plan replaces a previous plan which has supported significant improvements in air quality across Christchurch and other urban areas over the last 10 years, Environment Canterbury Commissioner David Bedford said.

“The results of past air quality initiatives are apparent when improvements in all polluted air sheds over the last 10 years are considered. In 2008, for example, there were 125 days on which air quality across the region exceeded the World Health Organisation guidelines. This last winter, the number of days where guidelines were exceeded was just 50.

“In recent years the community has made huge efforts to help improve air quality in Christchurch and other Canterbury towns. This air plan will support this progress because it incorporates the lessons learnt by Environment Canterbury and its partners.”

The new Air Plan enables anyone who wants to burn wood for home heating to do so, including those building new homes.

“A new range of very clean burning wood burners are now on the market. The Air Plan will see these new cleaner burners progressively replace older style wood burners in all polluted urban areas,” Mr Bedford said.

The Air Plan also introduces a requirement for wood burners to emit visible smoke for no more than 15 minutes at start-up, and this supports efforts to help the community adopt better wood burning techniques, and with the monitoring of compliance with the Air Plan.

The Air Plan also provides rules to control burning and odours in the rural areas that were previously uncontrolled, and allows industry to continue in polluted air sheds providing they contribute no additional pollution to the air shed.

“This Air Plan was developed following substantial engagement with the community and stakeholders, and works alongside other key components of Environment Canterbury’s air strategy,” Mr Bedford said. The other components are: working with partners such as local councils and health boards, developing local solutions with the community, and encouraging new technologies to improve air quality.

“Canterbury people told us they wanted cleaner, healthier air to breathe. The Air Plan puts in place the rules which sit alongside and support our other air quality programmes, while ensuring Canterbury’s air quality meet government’s targets for air quality, and the expectations of our communities.”

Mr Bedford said today’s decision also marks the first time that Timaru and Waimate have had air rules which will see new, cleaner-burning technologies progressively replace older-style wood burners – particularly in Timaru which has 150 open fires still operating.

“The good news is that this plan means anyone can still have a wood burner in their home.”


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