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CEAC finds - Huge data gaps in environmental stewardship

“CEAC finds - Huge’ data gaps in environmental stewardship”
Monday, 11th November 2019,
Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre

We agree with the (PCE) : Parliamentary Commissioner For The Environment

In our own experience CEAC as a Environmental NGO’s involvement with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), CEAC has found “Huge’ data gaps in environmental stewardship” just as the PCE has identified in his report released on 7/11/19.

Firstly, when we had our early involvement into regard for the (urban) “built environment” and the public urban health, safety, and wellbeing, we found many ‘data gaps’ in our own investigations going back to 2002 when our registered Environmental Laboratory CERL was formed.
1/ Noise measurement “descriptors” a term used by science to offer ways, means, and choices how to measure’.

We found very large ‘data gaps’ in the Road Controlling Agency, (RTA) (Transit NZ) and later when (NZTA) 2009 replaced the name of the (RTA).

The large data gaps were made when both used the wrong procedures/descriptors used to measure truck noise on their roads.

We had previously carried out our studies at US/Canadian Universities under our human health projects and since 2001, carried out OSH courses at Massey University so we had a global prospective of how to measure data of the environment.

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It was there that we found that Transit NZ/NZTA had old out of date systems to measure the environment of their road emissions noise, vibrations, air pollution emissions of motor vehicles.

In 2010 National Government begun an attempt to cover one of the recommendations of the PCE report entitled HB Expressway noise and air quality issues; as that report was critical of the lack of a NZ Standard of road noise, so we and other Acoustic (noise) Consultants placed submissions to the committee tasked with producing a “NZ Standard for road noise” but the government then was reluctant to adopt overseas standards of noise measurement assessments descriptors and reverted to the outdated use of what is termed as dBA or a general perceived ‘hearing by ear’ wide frequency received noise.

We found that international science has found that ‘LFN’ (Low Frequency Noise) is the most destructive frequency vibration to human health and property damage, and we are advised this descriptor to measure for (LFN) ‘Low Frequency Noise’ must now be adopted for use when measuring noise especially “Industrial noise is present in large amounts”.

Secondly our Environmental Monitoring Company CERL also carried out a one year Air quality of local suburban homes located near the HB Expressway during 2002/3, is partnership with NIWA scientist and Watercare and we found very high levels of air pollution in summer/ and especially at times around seasons when no wood burning was used for home fires. We did this under advisement that home fires would taint the traffic study results.

The air pollution results of the study came out in the press in the Dominion Post on Monday March 10th 2003 under the headline news; “Pollution regularly exceeds guidelines” with;
QUOTE; “Watercare Services scientist confirming that the air quality at the site was unacceptable by national and international standards and would create adverse health effects for those living and working in the area”
NIWA Scientist said the study was carried out correctly and the study result was accurate.

No current data was ever produced or carried out by any other agency since then at this location since which does accurately confirm the PCE allegation’s quote; “Huge’ data gaps in environmental stewardship” unquote; just as the PCE has identified in his report released on 7/11/19.
QUOTE; “Huge’ data gaps undermine environmental stewardship” quote (PCE)
Thursday, 7 November 2019, 4:17 pm
Press Release: Parliamentary Commissioner For The Environment
Environment Commissioner Simon Upton says ‘huge’ gaps in data and knowledge undermine our stewardship of the environment and is calling for concerted action to improve the system.
The Commissioner says data gaps, along with inconsistent data collection and analysis, make it hard to construct a clear national picture of the state of our environment – and whether it is getting better or worse.
“Huge gaps in environmental data and knowledge bedevil our understanding. This is in stark contrast with our economy where we are much more reliably informed. In addition, the entire system is fragmented – multiple pieces of legislation create a mosaic of requirements with unclear responsibilities across organisations,” he said.
“To say we have designed a national reporting system would be to overstate its coherence. Ours has been a passive system that has harvested whatever data is there and done the best it can to navigate what’s missing. In my judgment what there is, is clearly inadequate.
“New Zealand lacks consistent, authoritative time-series data and comprehensive spatial coverage.
“Every year we delay the collection of data identified as a significant gap, we commit New Zealand to flying blind in that area.”
“Further, the costs are not just environmental – they have real consequences for the economy, society and our wellbeing.
“We can’t make economically efficient or socially fair environmental rules if we can’t measure authoritatively what’s happening to the physical resource base on which our wellbeing ultimately depends.”

CEAC; Past history of PCE involvement in ‘our urban stewardship of the ‘built’ environment’.

In 2004/5 the PCE then under the stewardship of ‘Bob McClymont’, DipTP and his staff, all became engaged with us at CEAC and our community, for a one year study of the ‘HB Expressway’ heavy truck traffic noise, vibrations and air quality issues’ impacting on the health and wellbeing of those residents living alongside the heavy traffic route through Napier’s ‘western residential areas.’

We operate a registered Monitoring laboratory company (CERL) who were also used in data collection for excessive road noise levels on the controversial high noise road.

This as increased truck volumes were developing as all truck traffic was planned to be rerouted to only one route through Napier .

This has since trebled the truck movements daily from a low camera count of 900 in 2009 to a staggering level now of over 2700 truck movements each day today.

We congratulate the PCE in 2005 for finding the 12 recommendations in the report which directed the current labour government of the day to undertake those recommendations to mitigate and protect the health and wellbeing of those urban residential zones.

For the three years following 2005 after the release of that PCE report (still sitting in PCE file for completion) we had seen considerable tangible signs of Government moves to mitigate towards improving the health and wellbeing of those residents living alongside the heavy traffic route through Napier’s ‘western residential areas.’

For instance;
• 1/ Heavy foliage was placed alongside the expressway from the southern end of the HB Expressway where it enters the Napier boundary to the Kennedy Rd overbridge at the area of high density urban dwellings were situated.
• 2/ Minster of Finance Michael Cullen was by then involved with us and instrumental in 2004 in providing a fund of two million dollars for a smooth ‘quiet road surfacing’ for part of the Napier areas of Kennedy Rd overbridge to the Napier Airport.
• 3/ PM Helen Clark and Michael Cullen both facilitated the ‘political will’ and funding to restore the whole rail system again to Government ownership just as the PCE recommended that ‘rail be used to lower truck freight volumes’.

We at CEAC representing the community had requested;
• for use of rail,
• traffic noise walls where needed, seen in Auckland now.
• Lower urban speed to 80kms.
• More quiet noise road surfacing all through the entire ‘7kms’ of HB Expressway inside the Napier City Council controlled urban boundary.
• Speed/traffic calming measures, cameras, chicanes, median barriers, police surveillance and traffic squad car presence.

Then sadly in 2008 labour Government failed to win the 2008 election and the 12 recommendations for mitigation since then have been over-ridden or completely ignored,- and the health and wellbeing of those residents living alongside the heavy traffic route through Napier’s ‘western residential areas’ has deteriorated significantly and placed the community in harm’s way.

NZTA - Bad stewardship signs of our urban environment since 2009.
In 2014 NZTA (without any consultation or public notification to affected residents alongside the HB Expressway) with stealth had removed the ‘two million dollar’ quiet road surface Labour had placed in 2004 and replaced it with a chip seal surface that has now produced a far higher emission of noise and abrasion of tyre noise on the road resulting ‘tyre dust’ pollution’ that now threatens the health and wellbeing of all 1200 residents as the black dust now covers all homes alongside the HB Expressway signalling a ‘public health hazard’.

CEAC has been at the forefront of advocating for the health and wellbeing of all citizens of NZ including the residents environment where- ever they live including those residents living alongside heavy traffic routes such as the one through Napier’s ‘western residential areas and CEAC now has some hope and encouragement that this current Labour coalition Government with it’s own focus on restoring the ‘natural and ‘built – urban community’s environment from the years of neglect since 2008.

This is just a glimpse at the result of what the PCE refers to as: Quote-
“Further, the costs are not just environmental – they have real consequences for the economy, society and our wellbeing.”

We support PCE recommendations to improve the monitoring our environment; with several recommendations; RE; “establishing a standing science advisory panel”
If government is to consider establishing a standing science advisory panel as the PCE recommends, then; we want to see the following committed to;

• The science panel must first conduct an incorporated solid robust review of seriously updating their use of international monitoring standards not just restoring to the outdated data collection descriptors as agencies have done so far.
• Important documentation of environmental effects to humans, animals and environment will suffer loss from the lack of adequate data that we have discussed here, and we have found through using ‘international standards’ have uncovered serious loss of health and wellbeing to citizens already.
• The science advisory panel must not allow continued use of ‘the out of data system’ as agencies use in NZ today to produce inaccurate studies.
• Improvements can be made by the following;
• By inclusion using ‘active physical meetings’ with;
• affected community citizens/groups/NGO’s.
• independent environmental monitoring companies active with studies such as ours and others in their planning of future recommendations to the Government from a “science advisory’ panel”.

quote; The Commissioner says data gaps, along with inconsistent data collection and analysis, stewardship of the environment and his calling for concerted action to improve the system; Unquote.

CEAC encourage to see a Government who is caring, considerate inclusive and responsive to citizens concerns.

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