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Proposed Amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality: Report on Submissions

Introduction

A review of the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards Relating to Certain Air Pollutants, Dioxins and other Toxics) Regulations 2004 (the air quality standards) was announced by Environment Minister Hon Dr Nick Smith on 10 June 2009.

The air quality standards, which were gazetted in 2004, set threshold concentrations for certain air pollutants. They provide nationally consistent, bottom-line standards that should not be breached.

This report provides information on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. It includes information on:

Technical Advisory Group for Air Quality

An independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for Air Quality was commissioned by the Government in 2009 to review the standard for particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10). The TAG, which had specific Terms of Reference, considered whether:

  • the number of permitted exceedances (one per year) of the ambient PM10 standard is appropriate for New Zealand
  • disallowing industry consents (as required by the air quality standards after 2013 if the standards are not met) is equitable when industry contributes a small proportion of pollutants
  • the 2013 timetable is achievable and whether it has a suitable cost/benefit balance.

The TAG presented an independent report containing its recommendations to the Minister for the Environment in November 2009. Based on these recommendations, the Government agreed to public consultation on several options, including two preferred options.

Proposed Amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

The Ministry for the Environment published a discussion document on the proposed amendments in June 2010. Five workshops were held in main centres and general submissions were invited by the Ministry. Submissions closed on 9 July 2010.

This information summarises submissions on the proposed amendments. It outlines the options presented in the discussion document and presents a summary of the submissions received. It is not intended to provide an analysis of the views presented in submissions or to present recommendations in response to the submissions.

Options for changes to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

The discussion document contained the recommendations of the TAG together with three other option packages, including the Minister's preferred options.

  • Option 1 was the TAG's recommendations.
  • Option 2 put the greatest weight on obtaining health benefits.
  • Option 3 aimed to give equal weight to obtaining health benefits and ensuring equity.
  • Option 4a was very similar to the TAG's recommendations, with the difference lying in the industries to be affected and the timeline for mandatory offsets to take effect.
  • Option 4b differed from 4a only in that all industry consent restrictions were removed.

Options 4a and 4b were the two preferred options because they:

  • allowed councils more time to reduce PM10 levels in their regions but retained enough pressure for councils to achieve compliance
  • promoted a 'local solutions to local problems' approach but with increased ministerial oversight.

Table 1 provides a comparison of each option with the status quo, the existing air quality standards.

Table 1: Comparison of options for possible changes to the NES for air quality with the status quo

No. Description of possible changes
to NES for air quality
Status Quo Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4a Option 4b
1 Increase the number of permitted
exceedances from 1 to 3
  1     1 1
2 Exclude exceptional events from
being counted as exceedances
  2   2 2 2
3 Removal all industry consent restrictions   3       3
4 Extend timeline to 2020 (maximum)   4     4 (2018) 4 (2018)
5 Place a greater focus on education   5 5 5    
6 Require mandatory reporting (PM10 monitoring data)   6 6 6 6 6
7 Require councils to submit airshed implementation plans   7        
8 Increased  ministerial oversight   8        
9 Investigate funding links (link funding
to areas without a plan in place)
  9        
10 Retain one permitted exceedance 10   10 10    
11 Retain industry restrictions 11   11      
12 Retain the 2013 timeline     12 12    
13 Use existing ministerial powers under the RMA (s27)     13 13 13 13
14 Establish an air quality compliance strategy     14 14 14 14
15 Investigate funding links
(link funding to breaching airsheds)
    15 15    
16 National  guidance on domestic emission restrictions     16 16    
17 Introduce mandatory offsets for all discharge
consents in breaching airsheds after 2013
      17    
18 Introduce mandatory offsets for new industry
consents in breaching airsheds after 2018
        18  

Summary of submissions

Submissions received

One hundred and fourteen submissions were received. The largest number of submissions came from industry (50), followed by the general public (28) and local government (21), as shown in Figure 1 below. For a list of submitters see table 2.

Figure 1: Breakdown of submissions

Pie chart showing the breakdown of submissions.

 


This pie chart sorts the 114 submissions into six categories:

Industry 44%
NGO/Iwi 4%
Health sector 4%
Central government 4%
Local government 19%
General public 25%

Themes in submissions

A number of themes emerged from the submissions. There was clear support for improvements in several areas:

  • improving equity, as the existing rules focus attention primarily on industry
  • a greater focus on education, especially on the health impacts of PM10 emissions
  • development of a national compliance strategy, led by central government.

Sectors differed in what they expressed opposition to:

  • local government and industry expressed strong opposition to the current standards– particularly the blanket prohibition on industry consents imposed after 1 September 2013
  • industry expressed strong opposition to mandatory offsets1
  • other stakeholders expressed strong opposition to decreasing health protection, by extending the current target compliance date from 2013.

Figure 2 shows the preferred options expressed by submitters. There was no overall clear preference for any of the options outlined in the discussion document, although industry expressed a clear preference for Option 4b (in which all consent restrictions are removed). The largest number of submitters put forward proposals of their own ('Other'in Figure 2).

Figure 2: Submitters' preferred options

Pie chart showing submitters' preferred options.
This pie chart shows the percentage of submitters who expressed a preference for each option:

 

TAG: 2%
Option 2: 1%
Option 3: 3%
Option 4a: 12%
Option 4b: 34%
Status quo: 3%
Other: 40%
No preference: 5%

Figure 3: Breakdown of preferred options

Chart showing breakdown of preferred options.

This table breaks down each option into the number of submitters in each category who expressed a preference for that option:

  TAG Option 2 Option 3 Option 4a Option 4b Status Quo No preference Other
Industry - - - 5 31 - 2 12

Central government

- - - 1 - - 2 2

Local government

- - - 5 5 - - 11

Health

- - 1 2 - - - 2

NGO/Iwi

1 1 - - 1 1 - 1

General public

1 - 2 1 2 2 2 18

List of submitters

Table 2: List of submitters

Number Submitter pdf size
105 Aggregate & Quarry Association of New Zealand Inc 488 KB
59 Air Matters Ltd - McSweeney, C 294 KB
60 Air Matters Ltd - Murray, R 192 KB
53 Association for Independent Research Inc 6.25 MB
28 Auckland Regional Council 1.05 MB
37 Auckland Regional Public Health Service 3.4 MB
62 Australian Air Quality Group 229 KB
68 Bell, J 509 KB
5 Bioenergy Association of New Zealand Inc 308 KB
49 Broadys New Zealand Ltd 784 KB
101 Business NZ 181 KB
70 Canadian Clean Air Alliance 973 KB
97 Canterbury District Health Board 292 KB
110 Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce 292 KB
77 Carter Holt Harvey 1.2 MB
86 Cavanagh, J 277 KB
80 Christchurch City Council 629 KB
111 Christchurch International Airport Ltd 175 KB
107 Clutha District Council 513 KB
42 Cone, J 165 KB
103 Contact Energy Ltd 660 KB
47 CSP Coating Systems 319 KB
104 Domestic Energy Users' Network 481 KB
44 Downer EDi Works 409 KB
13 East Coast Suspended Ceilings 222 KB
15 Ecostove Ltd 184 KB
73 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority 466 KB
9 Environment Bay of Plenty 564 KB
74 Environment Canterbury 1.8 MB
39 Environment Southland 466 KB
36 Environment Waikato 1.6 MB
95 Federated Farmers of New Zealand 355 KB
76 Firenzo Wood Fires 629 KB
20 Fireworx 163 KB
43 Firth Industries Ltd 321 KB
31 Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd 862 KB
35 Foodstuffs SI Ltd 328 KB
88 Fulton Hogan 1.5 MB
54 Genesis Energy 1 MB
19 Genter, JA 299 KB
51 George, JM 175 KB
65 Golden Bay Cement  325 KB
61 Goodman Fielder New Zealand Ltd 288 KB
32 Greater Wellington Regional Council 864 KB
109 Green Party of New Zealand 1 MB
24 Haist, D 168 KB
89 Hamilton City Council 700 KB
85 Harwood, P 431 KB
82 Hastings District Council 802 KB
11 Hawke's Bay Regional Council 486 KB
75 Hay, Sir David 214 KB
30 Hewens, C 226 KB
106 Higgins Group Holdings Ltd 472 KB
81 Holcim (NZ) Ltd 1.5 MB
34 Hubbards Foods Ltd 163 KB
71 Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand 854 KB
113 J Ballantyne & Co Ltd 304 KB
14 Koed, C 195 KB
90 Local Government New Zealand 181 KB
112 Lyttelton Port of Christchurch 189 KB
22 Marlborough District Council 174 KB
78 McMillan, A 790 KB
7 Ministry of Health 393 KB
40 NCI Packaging NZ Ltd 180 KB
114 Nelson City Council 339 KB
1 Nelson Marlborough District Health Board 356 KB
55 New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd 854 KB
38 New Zealand Home Heating Association 754 KB
10 New Zealand Sugar Company Ltd 574 KB
18 New Zealand Timer Industry Federation Inc 964 KB
98 NIWA Auckland 890 KB
25 Northland Regional Council   599 KB
27 NZ Manufacturers and Exporters Association 226 KB
99 NZ Steel 785 KB
48 O'Reilly, K 237 KB
6 Orion New Zealand Ltd 356 KB
12 Otago Regional Council 497 KB
57 PACHAPG.ca 178 KB
87 Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd 727 KB
102 Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment 1.8 MB
41 Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board 214 KB
84 Pene, J 549 KB
29 Peter Davy Heating Shop Ltd 1 MB
16 Port Nelson Ltd 226 KB
94 Poultry Association of New Zealand Inc  403 KB
4 Public Health South 262 KB
72 Purewa Cemetery Trust Board 428 KB
45 Qualityarns New Zealand Ltd 174 KB
91 Regional Public Health 348 KB
8 Rheumatology Associates 784 KB
56 Robinson, Dr D 604 KB
52 Robinson, K 169 KB
3 Robinson, S 308 KB
66 Rotorua District Council 188 KB
69 Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company 216 KB
64 Sims Pacific Metals Ltd 277 KB
67 SLR Heggies Consulting 230 KB
79 Solid Energy NZ Ltd 669 KB
83 Southern Cross Forest Products Ltd 549 KB
33 St George's Hospital 291 KB
108 Tasman District Council 577 KB
93 Te Runanga O Ngati Hine  527 KB
21 Thredgold, M 307 KB
96 Timaru District Council 583 KB
63 Transpacific Industries Group (NZ) Ltd 392 KB
2 Tscharntke, I 325 KB
50 Tweedie-Cullen, R 594 KB
26 Waimakariri District Council  560 KB
58 Watercare Services Ltd 172 KB
23 Webber, A 167 KB
92 West Coast Regional Council 440 KB
46 Winstone Aggregates  279 KB
100 Wood Processors Association of NZ 357 KB
17 Wright, P 176 KB

1.  There did not, however, appear to be a common understanding that the proposal only related to new industry with significant discharges of PM10 and only those located in polluted airsheds. This may be due to provisions of the RMA which require that existing industry be considered as 'new' when applying to renew a resource consent. However, the PM10 regulations currently contain different provisions for existing (regulation 17C) and new (regulations 17A and 17B) industry.

 

Last updated: 29 January 2011