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Published: 2002-03-25 00:00:00

Environment Waikato Land Transport Committee chairman David Peart wants immediate action to reduce the health effects of vehicle emissions.

Last week Transport Minister Mark Gosche released a report that the effects of vehicle emissions in New Zealand were greater than previously realised. It estimated that 399 people over 30 died prematurely each year from air pollution from vehicle emissions – almost as many as are killed on the roads.

The report showed air pollution from vehicles was a significant, but under-recognised cause of serious health effects.

Regional Land Transport Committee Chairman David Peart said Environment Waikato had had a preference for CNG and LPG fuelled buses since 1991. Nearly all contracted bus services in Hamilton City run on environmentally friendly fuels, including modern engines which clean burn diesel.

In 1996 Environment Waikato began testing petrol vehicles for emissions, and one in three of the 7634 tested failed. Diesel vehicles were tested in 1998, and 58 percent failed of the 1152 tested. Generally the surveys showed that commercial vehicle fleets were better maintained than domestic vehicles and that older imported Japanese vehicles emitted significantly higher levels of smoke than other others.

Hamilton’s cars are running a little cleaner these days – but they could still do better. When 308 city vehicles were tested during the Festival of the Environment last week, one in five vehicles failed the test, which measured carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. Environment Waikato invited motorists to have their emissions tested at a supermarket and vehicle testing station over several days.

Councillor Peart said he was encouraged by the Minister’s statement that Government would be investigating further options to reduce motor vehicle motor emissions, such as introducing a vehicle emission test as part of the Warrant Of Fitness process.

“Environment Waikato has advocated this for a number of years and it is something that each vehicle owner must take responsibility for. We welcome the Government’s release of this report and looks forward to working together to improvement the environment.”