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Improvement needed in Region’s air standards

New national air quality standards gazetted earlier this month will mean improvements to community air standards earlier than planned, this month’s Environment Waikato Environment Committee meeting heard.

New national environmental standards have been imposed on air quality. The standards compliment and build upon actions already being planned by Environment Waikato to address air quality issues in the Region.

The new standards set concentration limits for various air pollutants and require Environment Waikato to follow minimum monitoring and reporting standards. Where air quality does not meet the minimum standards Environment Waikato will be required to prepare a plan that shows how it will ensure that air quality meets the standards by 2013 if particulate matter exceeds imposed limits.

Compliance with a standard for fine particulate matter known as PM10 will be the key driver in the Waikato. The standard is not currently met in the four urban areas where monitoring is currently undertaken – Hamilton, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taupo.

New standards will apply to new wood burners installed in urban areas from September next year and amendments will be made to the Building Act to enable compliance to be regulated by territorial authorities through building consents.

The standard prohibits open burning of oil, tyres and coated wire, road bitumen, use of any high temperature hazardous waste incinerators and school and health care incinerators without a consent. There are 153 school and health incinerators in the Region and they would need to be consented by 2006.

Tokoroa’s air was the biggest concern in the Region and Environment Waikato was budgeting to work with the community to work out how to improve air quality.

A presentation has already been made to South Waikato District Council staff and councillors.

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