About the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all New Zealanders. 

This page includes what they cover and guidance for local government on implementing the standards. 

Link to the NES

What the NES cover

The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES) are regulations made under the Resource Management Act 1991 which aim to set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all New Zealanders.

The NES came into effect on 8 October 2004. They are made up of 14 separate but interlinked standards.

These include:

  • seven standards banning activities that discharge significant quantities of dioxins and other toxics into the air
  • five standards for ambient (outdoor) air quality
  • a design standard for new wood burners installed in urban areas
  • a requirement for landfills over 1 million tonnes of refuse to collect greenhouse gas emissions.

Requirements for councils

Regional councils and unitary authorities are responsible for managing air quality under the Resource Management Act. They are required to identify areas where air quality is likely, or known, to exceed the standards. These areas are known as airsheds.

Guidance on implementing the NES

The Ministry provides the following guidance:

Review of the NES – 2015/16

The Government is currently reviewing the NES. See A way forward for national direction - 2016. The review intends to address the provisions relating to particulate matter to reflect the costs of compliance and current science on health impacts. This review is due to be completed in 2017. 

Policy development for the NES review is currently underway. The general public, iwi, regional councils, and air quality practitioners are encouraged to make submissions once a discussion document is released for consultation.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (the Bill) has provisions that may affect a NES. Any proposed amendments for the NES that may depend on Bill provisions passing into law will be outlined in the discussion document.

For more information see About the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill 2015.

Public notice - access to material incorporated by reference

The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations 2004 incorporate the following material by reference:

United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40 – protection of Environment, Volume 2, part 50, Appendix J – Reference method for the determination of particulate matter as PM10 in the atmosphere

Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4013:2014, Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emissions

Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4012:2014, Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of power output and efficiency

Australian Standard AS 3580.7.1:1992, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of carbon monoxide-Direct-reading instrumental method

Australian Standard AS 3580.5.1:1993, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of oxides of nitrogen–Chemiluminescence method

Australian Standard AS 3580.6.1:1990, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of ozone-Direct-reading instrumental method

Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3580.9.6:2003, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter–PM10 high volume sampler with size-selective inlet-Gravimetric method

Australian Standard AS 3580.9.8:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter–PM10 continuous direct mass method using a tapered element oscillating microbalance analyser

Australian Standard AS 3580.9.11:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter – PM10 beta attenuation monitors

Australian Standard AS 3580.4.1:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of sulphur dioxide–Direct-reading instrumental method

This incorporated material can be inspected by appointment free of charge at the Ministry for the Environment’s head office:

Environment House
23 Kate Sheppard Place
Thorndon
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

To make an appointment to inspect the incorporated material, please contact the Ministry for the Environment on:
Email: infocentre@mfe.govt.nz
Phone: (04) 439 7537

Photocopying incorporated material is not permitted.

Alternatively the incorporated material may be purchased from:

Standards New Zealand
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Level 2, 15 Stout Street
Wellington 6011
Freephone 0800 782 632
Email: enquiries@standards.govt.nz
Website: http://www.standards.govt.nz

Find out more

The NES are also a tool for waste management as they ban a number of activities which release hazardous chemicals into the air.  See page 11 of The New Zealand Waste Strategy Reducing harm, improving efficiency for specific details.

For more information on the NES email info@mfe.govt.nz.

Reviewed:
30/07/16