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Government Tackles Vehicle Emissions

Excessively smoky vehicles are to be targeted as part of a package of Government initiatives to tackle vehicle exhaust emissions, Transport Minister Maurice Williamson announced today.

The initiatives are detailed in a new report by the Ministry of Transport, Vehicle Fleet Emissions Control Strategy - Summary of Submissions.

"The Government has recognised that smoky vehicles are an issue that needs to be addressed.The bus used by the Alliance in the last election campaign which belched diesel fumes is probably a good example," said Mr Williamson.

"A first step will be to amend traffic regulations to enable police to more easily identify excessively smoky vehicles on the road. In addition Cabinet has given the go ahead to investigating complementary measures, such as the '10 second' rule used in Australia."

The 10 second rule involves a vehicle owner being sent a warning letter if their vehicle is observed emitting smoke for 10 seconds or more. If the vehicle is then spotted a second time the owner receives a fine.

Mr Williamson said that the Vehicle Fleet Emissions Control Strategy (VFECS) shows that emissions of carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen in some areas are above national air quality guidelines, or close to it.

"This research has broken new ground. For the first time in New Zealand we have identified the true nature of the problem, and as a result we now have solid research to use for tackling that problem."

"The real problem is on some particular busy urban streets, particularly where traffic gets backed up. Congested traffic produces a higher level of vehicle emissions than free flowing traffic."

However, the VFECS also shows that even in our larger cities, New Zealanders enjoy relatively clean air, Mr Williamson said.

"Another key finding is that while vehicles are often perceived to be the source of all air pollutants, the truth is more complex. While vehicles can be a major source of some pollutants, other things such as domestic fossil fuel heating and industrial emissions are the major contributors of other pollutants."

Nonetheless there was no room for complacency, said Mr Williamson.

"The problem is not going to go away if we ignore it, and could even get worse. That's unacceptable."

In addition to the smoky vehicle initiatives the Government will:

Review the Ambient Air Quality Guidelines and air quality monitoring methods.

Develop a rule to formalise an emissions standards regime for vehicles entering the national fleet.

Review the automotive fuel specifications.

Assist the vehicle service industry to improve its knowledge of modern engine technologies.

Provide the information and tools necessary to enable the use of environmental capacity analysis and local traffic management to tackle local air quality problems.

As part of this last measure the Ministry of Transport is working with the Christchurch City Council and the Canterbury Regional Council, as well as Transit New Zealand, on a pilot case study of traffic management.

"I am confident that these measures in combination will help tackle vehicle emissions" said Mr Williamson.

ENDS

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