Air Quality Technical Report Number 46, Section 2.2.1, contained the following overview of the implementation of the standards:
Regional councils, unitary authorities, territorial authorities and central government agencies will all need to play a role in developing and implementing policies, plans, strategies and monitoring programmes to achieve the standards within four years of their coming into force.
There are two main mechanisms for managing emissions to air and their impacts:
regional planning (such as the development of regional air plans)
- point source discharge management through resource consent decision-making.
Other methods such as public information campaigns, non-regulatory action plans and financial incentive schemes are also potentially effective ways of reducing emissions to achieve the standards.
Monitoring is needed to determine areas where ambient air quality does not comply with the standard and where emissions reduction strategies and measures are needed.
Central government agencies will also need to consider how national policies contribute to achieving the ambient standards.
Submissions received in relation to the implementation overview are summarised below.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 want the methods of implementation required by regional councils to include:
- preparing implementation plans (submitted to the Ministry and made available to the public) which demonstrate how the standards will be met by a certain timeframe
- attainment reporting requirements
- the actions to be taken if the standards are breached
- other necessary transitional arrangements.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 ask that the timeframes be either:
- absolute and consistent nationally, provided the timeframe is realistic and achievable for all regions, or
- negotiated individually with regional councils, to encourage compliance sooner where possible.
Submitter 35 is concerned that the timeframe is not practicable and notes that 10 years is proposed by Environment Canterbury.
Submitter 90 considers that four years for developing and implementing policies, plans and strategies is arbitrary and too short. However, because existing plans are already consistent with the 2002 Ambient Air Quality Guidelines the submitter considers that the timeframe is acceptable.
Submitters 97 and 164 comment that achieving the standards within three to four years is unrealistic and that the economic and social costs are too great in relation to the benefits. The submitters ask that a more realistic goal of 10 to 15 years be set to allow for the required monitoring and development of strategies.
Submitter 114 is concerned that the ambient standards will preclude the use of stand-by diesel generators at a time of an actual or potential national electricity shortage. The submitter requests that consideration of the authority of the Electricity Commission to call on reserve generation be given in the standards, and that additional allowances be made in the standards in the event of actual or potential electricity shortages.
Submitter 115 requests that heritage boiler plants be excluded from the ambient air quality standards because heritage plants run very few days per year, and because fitting air pollution controls to historical plant would be historically incorrect, be high cost and require specialist knowledge.
Submitter 116 broadly supports the proposed ambient air quality standards and comments that, given the very short timeframe, no doubt there will be future opportunity to examine and discuss the detail of the standards.
Submitter 118 is opposed to the methods to be used to implement the proposed ambient standards because:
- the focus is on limiting industrial point source emissions, which is inconsistent with data indicating motor vehicles and domestic heating are the primary sources
- there will be economic and social consequences in areas with existing air quality problems, and a detailed cost-benefit analysis is therefore needed.
- ambient air quality issues are already being addressed in regional plans in a more equitable and practical manner
- there has been insufficient research and consultation.
Submitter 119 does not support the four-year timeframe because of the additional cost from expanding and advancing monitoring programmes, and asks that implementation be extended to 10 years to alleviate the cost burden.
Submitter 120 does not support the three-to-four-year timeframe given for implementation because of the costs and timeframes associated with gathering quality data, and undertaking the analysis required for their successful implementation.
Submitter 122 considers that the four-year timeframe will place unreasonable demands on industry because industry is easily identifiable and relatively easy to control compared to non-point sources.
Submitter 127 is opposed to the four-year timeframe for compliance because it does not allow time for the council and community to debate the issues of costs and benefits related to the various management options available for improving air quality. The timeframe would cause significant difficulty due to the staff, financial resources and information needed to commence plan preparation immediately. The submitter asks that timeframes be discussed on a council-by-council basis.
Submitter 127 is concerned at the framework for implementation because, on the one hand, monitoring data is needed and air sheds need to be defined in legally robust terms, yet, on the other hand, there is imprecision in setting such boundaries, measuring levels and identifying contributors. As a result the standards are unlikely to be enforceable. Funding would enable councils and communities to meet air quality targets much sooner.
Submitter 154 does not support implementation of the standards in their current form, mainly because the timeframe is unachievable in Nelson. The submitter is concerned at the costs of achieving the standards within the timeframe, as well as the limitations of the planning framework to be able to implement the required changes in the timeframe. The submitter seeks:
- removal of the four-year compliance requirement
- the inclusion of negotiated timeframes
- a partnership by central government to support councils
- a fund to assist councils with the cost of implementation.
Submitter 156 is opposed to the timeframe for implementation of three to four years, and wants a transitional regime to be incorporated for implementing the standards, with longer timeframes for areas that do not meet the standards.
Submitter 156 is concerned that emission inventories provide information on overall emissions in an air shed but not the relative contribution in a local area. More sophisticated monitoring techniques will be needed to determine site-specific source apportionment, which is a significant additional cost for resource users.
Submitter 169 considers that under the standards the onus is on councils to determine through desk-top analysis and/or monitoring which places may be exceeding the ambient standards, and that industry become involved only if it is a major contributor when a standard is exceeded.
Submitter 176 considers that the methods of implementation are inconsistent with the objectives set out in section 1.3.
Submitter 184 considers that it may be difficult to achieve the standards within four years and requests that councils be given more tools to achieve compliance, such as:
- charges on permitted activities (eg, solid-fuel heaters)
- a system of tradeable allowances
- emission charges relative to the amount and toxicity of emissions, to fund ambient monitoring
- road-user charges for using specific roads at particular times of the day.
Submitter 206 considers that the timeframe of four years may be too short, particularly when the primary source is domestic fires.
Submitter 221 supports the timeframe provided for compliance and the requirement to publicly notify exceedances.
Submitters 210 and 215 are opposed to the standards on the basis that they will impact on the operations of coal users and reduce industry's ability to utilise a low-cost energy source needed to keep companies competitive in the export market.
Submitter 221 considers that the standards should discuss the role of transport in contributing to pollution.
Submitter 224 is concerned at the four-year timeframe for the standards to come into effect because it is inconsistent with the timing of the Vehicle Emission Policy, which is not anticipated to commence until late 2006, and any significant reductions in emissions from the fleet will occur some time after this.
Submitter 224 is concerned that there are only two mechanisms identified: regional plans and the resource consent process. Submitters 125 and 224 consider that these mechanisms do not adequately provide for an integrated approach to air shed management that accounts for non-point source contributions such as motor vehicles, small commercial activities and domestic sources. The submitters want the standards to clarify the mechanisms to address all significant sources to achieve the standards.
Air Quality Technical Report Number 46, Section 2.2.2, contained an overview of regional planning and requirements placed on councils:
Regional Plans developed by councils under the Resource Management Act 1991 will play a key role in achieving the standards.
Councils may need to undertake a strategic review of their management controls, including plans and policy statements, to determine whether existing controls need to be changed or new controls added.
Regional councils will be required to publicly notify exceedances of standards.
Potential enforcement action against councils that are not making progress towards achieving the standards will be the same as action that might be taken if any party is not fulfilling its functions and duties under the RMA.
Submissions received in relation to the regional council's role are summarised below.
Submitter 95 comments that the Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan should be allowed to proceed through the remaining stages without changes imposed by the standards, in particular the timeframe for compliance at reasonable cost, to ensure that hardship is avoided.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 are concerned that the standards are likely to undermine the objectives, policies and rules in regional plans, which have largely been based on the 2002 Guidelines. The submitters are concerned that councils will unnecessarily be challenged on these requirements and that the standards will provide a lower level of air quality than is currently required. The submitters seek confirmation that regional councils can adopt more rigorous ambient air quality targets, and that the standards do not inhibit councils from doing this.
Submitter 95 requests that:
- a method for achieving the ambient standards be determined locally, taking into account local circumstances
- time be allowed to introduce changes via an RMA planning process
- where the extent of the changes needed to achieve standards is significant, transitional arrangements be allowed to ensure the alignment of plan rules with the capacity of utility operators to meet the increased demand for electricity; and the standard of insulation for the majority of homes in the area.
Submitter 113 comments that the standards will supersede regional plans rather than allowing a council to determine the most appropriate methods. Given the level of uptake of the 2002 Guidelines the submitter queries why the standards are required.
Submitter 121 asks that the standards clarify how the Ministry will enforce councils to progress the achievement of standards.
Submitter 122 is concerned at the potential confusion over whether standards in plans would have primacy over the national standards.
Submitter 127 seeks clarification on what the standards intend in relation to enforcement action against a council, under what circumstances such action might be taken, and the likely nature of such action.
Submitter 136 considers that the requirement to notify breaches should only occur where breaches are continuing, because one-off reporting would serve very little purpose from a public health perspective.
Submitter 154 is opposed to the potential for enforcement action against a council for not achieving the standards because councils are not responsible for discharges in the same way that individual dischargers are, and there is no detail as to what constitutes "doing enough". The submitter asks that this section be deleted. The submitter also considers that land- use decisions are important for managing air quality and wants the section to be amended to specifically encompass the role of district planning.
Submitter 156 is opposed to the approach of requiring councils to publicly notify exceedances because the allowable exceedance limit is unrealistic and impracticable, and notification of these could add significant delays and costs to the testing required to comply with consent conditions.
Submitter 162 requests that enforcement provision be developed in the RMA or regulations so that councillors and council staff are subject to similar penalties as those who conduct other activities under the RMA.
Submitter 169 considers that industry emissions are already effectively managed through the consent process and is concerned that there is no specific emphasis on managing emissions such as those from vehicles.
Submitter 220 comments that a timeframe of four years for agencies to develop and implement policies, rules and strategies to achieve the standards is too rigid.
Submitter 221 suggests that transport should be addressed in plans in relation to various air sheds in urban areas. The submitter supports the timeframe provided for compliance and the requirement to publicly notify exceedances.
Submitter 206 is opposed to the notifying of exceedances because of the additional cost involved. The submitter is concerned that they may be subject to enforcement procedures as a result of non-compliances, which may be outside their control (eg, territorial authorities issuing building permits for substandard appliances). The implications of the enforcement regime need to be thought through and a role for territorial authorities added into implementation and enforcement.
Air Quality Technical Report Number 46, Section 2.2.3, contained provisions relating to point source discharge management:
Compliance with the ambient standards will need to be determined through assessments for resource consents and compliance monitoring. Assessments typically involve atmospheric dispersion modelling and sometimes ambient monitoring ... to demonstrate that the discharge will not cause the standard to be exceeded, either on its own or cumulatively.
Compliance with the standard applies to locations where the discharge may affect people over the relevant averaging period.
New discharges and consent renewals in areas where existing ambient levels are within the standard
Permits can only be granted for new discharges where existing ambient levels are within the standard and if the discharge does not cause the standard to be exceeded, either on its own or cumulatively in combination with emissions from other existing sources.
New discharges and consent renewals in areas where existing ambient levels exceed the standard
In areas where existing ambient concentrations do not comply with the standard, a new discharge or an existing discharge up for consent renewal should either:
- contribute only an insignificant amount of emissions or
- work with other emitters to reduce emissions, and then contribute an emission that will still result in an overall decrease in emissions and a reasonable trend downwards towards the standard.
An 'offence' occurs when a point source discharge is the main source of pollution causing an exceedance of the maximum limit or number of allowable exceedances. Where there is sufficient evidence to show that this has occurred, enforcement action should be taken. A council can issue an enforcement order and take action in accordance with provisions in the RMA.
Emissions testing and dispersion modelling
Reasonable judgement will guide assessments and the need for modelling or measurement to show whether the discharge will meet the standard.
Submissions received in relation to point source management are summarised below.
Submitter 1 is concerned that the proposal that "consents cannot be granted where concentrations in air sheds already exceed the standards" will apply to existing activities because existing activities are treated as new discharges when applying for a replacement consent. The submitter requests that:
- how an air shed is determined be clearly defined
- the standard clarifies whether it applies to all contaminants, not just the ones not being met
- a definition of negligible be provided
- the standard clarify whether an application for a renewal before a consent expires is the same as after it expires.
Submitter 2 comments that the costs to industries will be dependent on the definition of "negligible". In particular, modelling will be required where it currently isn't, and more in-depth models with better meteorological data will be needed, bringing about the possibility of more arguments about the techniques used at hearings. The submitter would prefer an approach that included emissions standards to increase certainty and reduce the need for lengthy hearings.
Submitter 3 supports the position that in areas where guidelines are exceeded there should be agreement between local authorities, industry and the community about the rate at which change will be required to meet a reasonable trend downwards. The submitter is concerned that industry in urban areas will be required to install increasingly expensive control equipment to mitigate relatively minor emissions. The submitter asks that the standard not allow councils to apply blanket mitigation requirements on industry and ensures that individual circumstances are taken into account when mitigation measures are required.
Submitter 3 wants the standard to recognise that dispersion modelling is not an appropriate assessment tool for non-point sources such as quarries, and that compliance with best practice guidance should provide sufficient information to determine whether monitoring is required.
Submitter 4 asks that the standards and any additional controls not be applied to existing resource consents, but that if this is necessary, or additional controls should be applied over a reasonable, staged timetable.
Submitter 5 queries whether standards will be applied to applications lodged prior to their adoption in regulation and asks that resource consents be determined by the rules applying at the time of lodging the applications. The approach may be inappropriate if it encourages a proliferation of geographically sporadic industry rather than recognising that certain industries have certain effects and are best grouped in clusters.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 consider that the proposed approach appears to force development into rural and residential areas with less degraded air quality, and consider this approach to be contrary to land-use planning principles and the establishment of air quality management areas in the Auckland region's proposed air plan. The submitters request that the appropriateness and practicalities of applying the approach to industrial emissions and resource consents be considered.
Submitter 35 is concerned that the standard appears to relate to adding the maximum modelled level to the maximum background level with no interpretation of whether the two events may coincide. The submitter seeks clarification of:
- who defines the areas where existing levels are within the standards and where levels must be reduced, the extent of the areas, the reduction required, and if the source will interact with these levels
- the background levels
- whether it is realistic to ask other sources to reduce output when consent costs may be incurred for modifications
- whether reduction by industry will have any significant benefit.
Submitter 36 supports the concept that new discharges can only be approved if the discharge does not cause the relevant standard to be exceeded and that there be negotiated solutions with other emitters.
Submitter 75 is concerned that not allowing new discharges in areas where the standards are already exceeded could push development into more rural, less-contaminated areas, and effectively allow a pollute up to" approach. The submitter requests that consideration be given to a "maintain and enhance" approach for areas with good and excellent air quality.
Submitter 75 comments that it seems unfair to allow new motor vehicles and domestic burners in polluted areas but not new industry, and is concerned at the economic and social costs of such a policy. The submitter seeks clarification as to how industry will work with other emitters to reduce emissions, and who those emitters are.
Submitter 75 also asks that the ambient air quality standards not be applied to industrial point source emissions because determining compliance for individual point sources will be unenforceable. In particular, dispersion modelling and ambient monitoring are too uncertain and it is not possible to distinguish between the point source and background sources with the required level of confidence.
Submitter 93 requests that the potential for regulatory costs to increase be limited by allowing existing resource consents to expire as scheduled, and removing local government's discretion to reinterpret the standard.
Submitter 95 is concerned that industries wishing to locate in Christchurch will be driven outside the main urban area, which has the effect of potentially degrading air quality in new locations. Such a change in the location of industry would be contrary to land-use planning principles that seek to consolidate development, and would also increase transport demand. The submitter notes that industry will have difficulty "working with others" when the major source of air pollution is domestic.
Submitter 97 considers that the provisions for polluted air sheds are too restrictive and the economic and social consequences significant. The submitter wants the statement in relation to new industries in polluted air sheds to be deleted, and for regional councils to be allowed to decide the best way to implement the standards after carefully considering the economic and social wellbeing of the community.
Submitter 98 opposes the prohibition on issuing consents to new industries because there is little sense in prohibiting a new, clean industry when existing industries are working through compliance programmes to achieve higher standards.
Submitter 113 opposes the requirement that new activities be managed in the same manner as existing activities. The submitter comments that if the business has applied the best practicable option, they should not be disadvantaged due to factors over which they have no control. The economic costs of alternatives such as relocation do not appear to have been considered.
Submitter 113 is concerned about the effect of consent reviews creating uncertainty, which will have a flow-on effect on business investment. The submitter comments that the allowance for an "insignificant" amount of emissions is undefined and does not provide any certainty.
Submitter 118 is opposed to the methods because information on how emitters would work with other emitters has not been provided, and industrial development could be pushed into relatively unpolluted areas, which would not maintain air quality where it is already good.
Submitter 118 requests that:
- the standards not specifically apply to assessing industrial point source emissions
- more detail be provided on how standards will be implemented
- a further period of consultation and submissions be allowed.
Submitter 119 wants guidance to be provided on what is deemed to be an "insignificant amount". The submitter also seeks guidance on the options available when industry is not a major contributor in an air shed where standards have been breached.
Submitter 122 considers the idea that new emitters could work with existing emitters to be naive because there is no financial incentive for existing emitters to reduce emissions to allow for a new entrant. The submitter is concerned that the standards are a potential trigger for councils to review consents, and that while this is a relatively easy step for them to take; the impact may be minor compared to reducing other sources.
Submitter 122 considers that assessing the relative contribution of emissions is difficult and may not easily be determined by dispersion modelling. There is uncertainty over what may cause the standard to be breached and what existing activities to take into account. The submitter feels that councils could be overly conservative in assessing potential emissions when assessing cumulative effects.
Submitter 131 comments that applicants will need to be certain what "insignificant" means, and notes that in consultation the Ministry have advised that this would mean that the discharge would "not interrupt the downward trend" and that regional councils would define the meaning regionally. The submitter suggests that it may be defined via the Environment Court, which will be a significant cost to applicants and could mean that industry will avoid such areas, with considerable social and economic impacts, despite the contribution from industry being low.
Submitter 134 considers that the management regime should provide for targeted improvement by existing consent holders to ensure there is scope for future users of the air shed.
Submitter 136 considers that the inability to review existing consents until the consent expires compromises the purpose of the standards to improve air quality. The submitter requests that provision be made to activate a more timely review of consents in circumstances where it is needed to achieve compliance with the standards.
Submitter 136 also considers that provision could be made for district plan amendments to restrict the development of sensitive activities in areas where air quality standards are breached. The submitter is concerned that it may be difficult to accurately relate overall air shed breaches to a specific plant unless all individual plants are monitored, and the ability to do this depends on the timeframe for review of consent.
Submitter 139 comments that the requirement to demonstrate "that the discharges will not cause the standard to be exceeded" implies no allowance for the inherent uncertainties in modelling. The submitter notes that demonstrating that discharges will not exceed the standard is impossible in marginal cases, and accounting for cumulative effects is inherently difficult if air shed concentrations are at times already high. The issues are:
- having sufficient ambient air quality data for evaluation purposes, and gathering such data is expensive
- the principal assessment tool is air dispersion modelling, which is predictive and relies on high-quality input data to achieve satisfactory predictions, while outputs require high-quality interpretation.
Submitter 139 wants the wording "will not" to be changed to "should not" to recognise that the assessment methods are uncertain, and wants the Ministry to further investigate the implications of considering cumulative effects in relation to the difficulty and expense of providing sufficient data across New Zealand.
Submitter 139 requests that the Ministry consider the implications of requiring a new discharge to contribute only an insignificant amount of emissions in air sheds that do not comply; and if the Ministry means by "insignificant" almost no emission, then this should be clearly stated so that industry is fully aware of the implications of the policy. The policy could be replaced by requiring a minimum level of control equipment.
Submitter 139 suggests that the phrase "work with other emitters" be better defined in terms of how this could be achieved, or that the requirement be deleted.
Submitter 140 wants the standard to ensure that individual circumstances are taken into account when mitigation measures are required.
Submitter 145 requests that section 2.2.3 be deleted, and suggests that the section be replaced with a section that allows regional councils to impose technology standards on industries that seek to locate in polluted areas. This approach is consistent with Environment Canterbury's plan and the US EPA's Maximum Achievable Control Technology requirements for non-attainment areas. The submitter is concerned that the current proposals place an unfair burden on industry, whereas the principal causes of air pollution in New Zealand are motor vehicles and domestic heating. Industry contributes only 7% of the emissions, yet the proposed standards will make it more difficult for industrial discharges to obtain new consents, while no controls on motor vehicles are proposed and the emission standard for domestic heaters is a permissive technology standard. The submitter is also concerned that the report fails to suggest in practical terms how industry might work with other emitters to negotiate reductions, and considers that this is not practical, particularly in relation to domestic and motor vehicle emissions.
Submitter 145 is concerned that the terminology lacks clarity, especially the use of the terms "insignificant" and "reasonable trend downwards." The submitter considers that in addition to the uncertainty associated with "the main source of pollution", source apportionment techniques are not sufficiently precise to measure compliance with a regulation.
Submitter 145 asks that if section 2.2.3 is not deleted, discharges be judged on their total annual discharge or the discharge that occurs when air pollution levels are high, rather than necessarily adding peaks to peaks. The submitter also wants more stringent controls placed on the activities that cause pollution problems - vehicles and domestic heating.
Submitter 145 comments that the need to undertake additional work to characterise background air quality could mean that industry faces expensive ambient air quality monitoring or complex air shed dispersion modelling studies, which is significantly more than is currently required, although there is no evidence that this is justified. This places an economic burden with no benefit to air quality.
Submitter 151 supports the approach of requiring emission reductions at the time of renewal of consents but would not support an approach that would override existing consents.
Submitter 154 wants the requirement to achieve "a reasonable trend downwards" to be retained.
Submitter 156 is opposed to the principle that a user with an existing resource consent that needs to be reviewed is treated as a new contributor, and considers it causes uncertainty for existing resource consents because consents may be declined or capital expenditure required that may result in plant closure.
Submitter 156 is concerned about the practicality of being able to demonstrate a "reasonable downward trend" given variability as a result of meteorological conditions. This could result in significant additional monitoring costs to demonstrate such trends.
Submitter 156 queries whether current data on ambient air quality are adequate for councils to make decisions on resource consents and considers that data for NO2 and SO2 are generally inadequate. The submitter notes that high SO2 and NO2 in one location may not necessarily mean there is an ambient air quality issue and there needs to be a clear definition of what is meant by "ambient air quality". The submitter requests that the areas where ambient air quality is exceeded be given better geographical definition.
Submitter 160 is concerned that standards in Christchurch are exceeded largely due to domestic heating, which is being progressively addressed, and for this to impact on the granting of a consent is not equitable and would not be in the best interests of the community.
Submitter 166 is concerned that high pollution levels may be caused by factors completely outside industry's control, such as heavy traffic flows, and that negotiation with emitters in this case would be difficult. The submitter requests that what constitutes an "insignificant" emission be defined. The submitter wants emission levels (technology based) to be defined within the standard, and consents to be granted if they comply with the emission standard regardless of background air quality.
Submitter 166 queries the application of the ambient standards and asks that they be made clear and unambiguous. For example, if CO is to be discharged in an environment with SO2 breaches, will negotiations to reduce SO2 still be required for the new source? The submitter requests that the standards clearly be applied on a species-by-species basis.
Submitter 169 supports the concept of assessing contaminants "where people may be affected" and that this may be beyond the property boundary. The submitter is concerned, however, that industry may be required to further reduce emissions in addition to existing controls before emissions from other sources such as residential sources are required to, and seeks more emphasis on the control of these sources.
Submitter 169 considers that it may be difficult to "work with other emitters to reduce emissions" (eg, where the main source is vehicles), and considers this to be an unreasonable expectation. The submitter requests that the standard include a commitment from councils to work with both industries and communities to reduce emissions.
Submitter 171 requests that in regions where the pollution levels are higher, local authorities not be allowed to impose stricter emission levels than are practically and economically achievable. The submitter wants consideration to be given to individual circumstances in areas where background emissions are higher than the standards.
Submitter 171 asks that definitions used in the standard make it explicit that the standard applies to all significant sources of pollutants - not just significant industrial point sources - and that the standards make it explicit that all sources of pollutants within an air shed must contribute equally to any reduction. The submitter requests that if new industry wishes to establish in an area and demonstrates that it is using the best practicable option (BPO) or best available control technology (BACT), it should not be disadvantaged when pollution in the air shed exceeds the standard, particularly where existing industry is not using BPO or BACT.
Submitter 175 notes that the meaning of the term "insignificant" is uncertain, and requests that a definition be given of what "insignificant" means in relation to new emissions. The submitter asks that regional councils be given the ability to disallow new resource consents because of cumulative adverse effects even though the individual adverse effect may be "insignificant". The submitter also asks that the standard clarify the methods that will be used to promote emitters working together to reduce emissions.
Submitter 175 wants the standard to be drafted to ensure that regional councils can review resource consents if necessary to ensure the standards can be met in air sheds where the standards are breached.
Submitter 175 requests that guidelines be developed in consultation with regional councils on how decisions will be made on the dischargers that have priority when renewing resource consents or processing new consents in an air shed that is already fully allocated.
Submitter 176 seeks clarification of what constitutes an "insignificant effect" and "a reasonable trend downwards". Guidance is needed on how to assess the significance of a discharge and how to consider discharges from a non-related sources that contributes to a reduction. The submitter considers that criteria are needed that allow authorities to take into account the strategic regional significance of an activity such as an airport. The submitter requests that the criteria for assessing proposed discharges in areas where ambient air quality exceeds the standards should also be used for proposals that will result in air quality exceeding the standards in areas where it currently complies.
Submitter 177 is concerned that industry will be targeted for emission reductions rather than unconsented sources. The submitter is concerned about the standards being applied to existing operations during consent renewal, and that consents may be declined due to other nearby polluters rather than a lack of emission control in the applicant's proposal. The submitter is also concerned that the standards will force new industries to locate away from areas with existing high levels, which is inconsistent with town-planning principles and would increase the incidence of reverse sensitivity and incompatible land-use issues.
Submitter 177 seeks emission control standards for existing industrial activities that will ensure consent renewal, and the provision of guidance to councils to ensure they focus on highly polluting and unconsented practices.
Submitter 183 wants the standards to ensure that:
- there are no unreasonable costs and delays through unavailability of ambient air data
- consent procedures are not unduly delayed
- guidance is provided on how the "scale" and "significance" of emissions is to be assessed
- the Ministry is more realistic about the ability of emitters to negotiate reductions with others
- guidance is provided on what constitutes a "reasonable trend downwards"
- a lower threshold is identified, beyond which reductions are no longer required as part of consent renewal
- the allocation of discharge rights is equitable rather that "first in first served".
Submitter 184 supports the restrictions on new consents for non-complying areas and considers that the provisions should be applied to existing consents. The submitter suggests that the offset should be twice the emissions of the new source in order to gain an improvement towards meeting the standard.
Submitter 185 supports the proposals but would like clarification on how the standards will be enforced and the methods to be used to encourage co-operation to bring about an overall decrease and a reasonable trend downwards.
Submitter 185 considers that industries should only be prevented from locating in cities like Christchurch if they are not clean enough and that the legislation should ensure that dirty industries cannot relocate to unpolluted areas.
Submitter 200 supports the assessment of background air quality and considers that this should be part of state of the environment reporting. It is unreasonable to require a consent applicant to establish the cumulative effects of operations other than their own contribution. The submitter does not support any provisions that would override existing consents, but supports the requirement for reductions at the time of consent renewal.
Submitter 201 supports the exemption allowing discharges where they contribute only an insignificant amount of emissions but considers that "insignificant" will cause debate and the use of "no more than minor" is more appropriate.
Submitter 201 opposes the requirement to work with other emitters to reduce emissions due to the practical difficulties of dealing with individual motorists and home owners. New emissions or consent renewals should be allowed provided there is a reasonable trend downwards in the air shed.
Submitter 206 considers that those applying for a consent renewal may face a significant cost to gain "a reasonable downward trend" when the major contributor is domestic fires. The wording of the standards in regard to non-compliance of point sources will be difficult to enforce and, realistically, breaches are only likely to be proven if consent conditions are not being met.
Submitter 206 wants a better definition for the term "places where people gather" because this is currently too uncertain.
Submitter 208 opposes in part the regime for areas where existing ambient levels are within the standard. The submitter asks for an investigation into the implications of cumulative assessment of discharges, especially because this may:
- restrict development in some areas
- provide opportunity for poor performers not to improve at the expense of new, clean industries
- be unrealistic if the cumulative effects are from all sources such as vehicles and domestic heating
- be unrealistic and expensive in terms of ambient air monitoring data requirements.
Submitter 208 opposes the regime for areas where existing ambient levels exceed the standard because:
- high-quality information on ambient air quality and emitters would be required to assess an overall downward trend, which is complicated and expensive
- there is no incentive for poor performers to improve
- the cost, skills and knowledge required to participate in a partnership to reduce emissions may be beyond some industries.
Submitter 208 seeks greater investigation into the implications of collaboration to decrease emissions and a mechanism that does not penalise clean technology.
Submitter 220 is concerned that the new regime will preclude new commercial development, such as in Christchurch, where domestic burners are reportedly responsible for 90% of the PM10 emissions. Further analysis needs to be applied to a mix of transitional measures to accompany the standards.
Submitter 221 supports the production of a good practice modelling guide. The submitter also raises concerns in relation to the use of the terms "significant", "minor", and "reasonable" which are not defined.
Submitter 221 supports the description of criteria for new discharges and renewals where ambient levels are within the standard, but would like to see a general policy of attempting to achieve the "good" criteria for residential and educational locations. The submitter also considers the use of "insignificant" to be too uncertain.
Submitter 221 supports the approach of working with other emitters to decrease emissions, but notes that the phrase "reasonable trend" needs some definition.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 consider it to be inappropriate and often impossible to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that a pollution event from a single point source resulted in a breach of the ambient standard. In addition, the approach is inconsistent with the 2002 Guidelines of not applying the standard at the boundaries of industrial sites. These submitters seek clarification on whether the penalties under section 339(1) of the RMA will be imposed on regional councils if they cannot meet the ambient criteria, and comment that this aspect needs to be clearly spelt out, including how it will be implemented.
Submitter 35 seeks clarification of who will decide what caused the exceedance and what the burden of proof will be.
Submitter 75 opposes the potential for enforcement action against councils without a phase-in approach and government funding to assist communities to install cleaner heating. The submitter seeks clarification on when the penalties are intended to be applied and what they will be (eg, for not meeting the notification and annual monitoring report requirements).
Submitter 85 is concerned at the interpretation of "main source" and that the report is unclear about how exceeding a standard would impact on non-point source discharges. The submitter asks that the full compliance regime be clarified, particularly for non-point source activities.
Submitter 120 seeks clarification on who the enforcement action would be against, given the standards are ambient standards.
Submitter 127 seeks clarification on the legal provisions that enable a council to take enforcement action against any discharger for non-compliance with an ambient air quality standard, and how the council might defend this sort of action.
Submitter 140 wants it to be made explicit that the standard applies to all significant sources of pollutants within an air shed, not just significant point sources.
Submitter 145 is concerned that the terminology lacks clarity, especially the use of the phrase "main source of pollution".
Submitter 175 refers to the proposal that "an offence occurs when a point source is the main source of pollutant causing an exceedance",and states that it is unclear how the standard will be enforced for a consent discharge, where and offence under the RMA would only occur if the discharger exceeds the resource consent. Other uncertainties include what happens when there are a number of equally large discharges, or when small sources make up the largest cumulative discharge. Clarification of how the standards will be enforced is required.
Submitter 162 considers there to be inconsistency between subsections on new discharges in areas where ambient levels exceed the standard, in that the enforcement provision does not recognise the maximum limit or number of allowable exceedances. The submitter requests that the regulations make provision for exceedance allowances in the subsection.
Submitter 185 seeks more detail on the enforcement regime and who will be targeted (eg, industries, domestic burners, vehicles).
Submitter 221 is concerned at the use of the term "reasonable" in the enforcement context because sufficient ambient air quality data are unlikely to be available to provide objective baselines for most assessments.
Submitter 224 is concerned that it is not clear whether enforcement action would be pursued where a non-point source was identified as a major contributor, or how responsibility will be apportioned in a complex air shed with many contributors. The submitter is also concerned that holding a council responsible is a punitive approach without first allowing for guidance and assistance in developing and implementing an appropriate air quality management plan. The submitter also seeks clarification on whether this section would apply to government departments and Crown entities.
3.3.2 Emissions testing and dispersion modelling
Submitter 2 has concerns about the upper limits, especially for modelling, and considers that they introduce the opportunity for a lot of argument about the acceptability of proposals. The submitter prefers the percentile approach.
Submitter 35 raises concerns about the use of dispersion modelling as a tool, in particular the lack of certainty associated with background air quality and cumulative effects. The submitter also seeks a definition of what is meant by "reasonable judgement".
Submitter 134 considers that the consent holder should carry out monitoring as per consent conditions, that the regulatory agency must ensure compliance through reviews and spot checks, and that central government should carry out an audit of regulatory agencies.
Submitter 164 does not support applying the standards as an absolute maximum to modelling results because maximum concentrations from air dispersion modelling are very uncertain and are dependent on the inputs and model used, and are likely to result in lengthy and technical arguments about modelling. The Ministry's guidelines for assessing discharges are a more appropriate forum. The submitter considers the Ministry's Good Practice Guide to Modelling and Guide to Assessing Discharges (under development) will need to clearly set out how background concentrations are to be dealt with and what design ground-level concentrations are appropriate to use in modelling. The submitter asks that the maximum limits from the proposed standards not be applied to modelling assessments.
Submitter 175 notes that one of the most likely exceedances of guidelines will be from motor vehicles, and the only way councils could practically control this is through land-use controls. The submitter wants the standards to be clarified to as to whether land-use controls can be used to ensure that air quality guidelines are not exceeded.
Submitter 201 opposes the proposal that an offence occurs when a point source discharge is the main source of pollution causing an exceedance, because it could be misinterpreted. For example, there may be one main source contributing in an air shed that is dominated by a large number of small sources, which are responsible for the majority of the pollution but are individually minor, making the one source liable for the breach. The RMA already adequately deals with enforcement provisions for point sources, but the standards should be modified to provide that councils should be subject to enforcement action for failing to adequately plan for air discharges.
Air Quality Technical Report Number 46, Section 2.2.4, contained an overview of ambient monitoring requirements:
Councils will need to prepare an annual monitoring report, which will be made publicly available. The report should include details of where exceedances occur, potential health effects, sources as determined by an emissions inventory, and actions being undertaken to improve air quality.
Where no monitoring has been undertaken because contaminant concentrations are expected to be low, this must be reported (with reasons) in the annual monitoring report.
Submissions received in relation to ambient monitoring are summarised below.
Submitter 2 is concerned that the extra monitoring required will be expensive and take time to set up and manage, and that insufficient expertise is available for this.
Submitter 3 supports monitoring only being required when desk-top studies show pollution concentrations potentially exceed a standard, but does not support the wholesale monitoring of all pollutants in all areas, especially if there is no indication that there are significant sources in the area.
Submitters 3, 5, 73, 93, 140, 150, 151, 156, 161 and 171 request that it be made explicit that the responsibility for ambient monitoring is with regulatory authorities and should be funded by the general rate rather than industry.
Submitters 6, 163 and 174 ask that the standards clearly describe:
- what constitutes an exceedance, and how it will be calculated
- how an air shed will be defined and delineated
- how differences in sampling methods between gravimetric samplers on a one-day-in-three programme and continuous samplers will be considered in determining exceedances
- the methods for monitoring compliance.
Submitter 31 wants the Ministry to take into account the costs of monitoring and notes that the costs of standard test methods is high (eg, $80,000 for two SO2 sites for six months). The submitter asks that less expensive screening methods be allowed for in areas where the risk of an exceedance is low.
Submitter 35 seeks clarification as to who does monitoring and who pays for it, where and how monitoring will be undertaken, and what quality assurance, interpretation and certainty will be associated with the results. All required meteorological parameters necessary for dispersion modelling should be included with ambient monitoring.
Submitter 36 supports monitoring and comments that it is a prerequisite of this approach.
Submitter 72 comments that additional monitoring, investigation and staff resources will be required to implement the standards, and requests that central government provide additional funding to councils for this purpose.
Submitter 75 seeks clarification of the monitoring requirements and considers the reference to "where people gather and may be exposed over the relevant averaging period" to be vague. Clarification on whether the exposures under consideration are the peak or typical exposures is also required. The submitter wants guidance on monitoring requirements to include reference to a "significant population", and guidance to be provided on a minimum population size.
Submitter 90 considers that in cases of exceedances an emission source should not be publicly notified unless there is a clear evidential basis that the named emission source contributed to an exceedance by breaching its consent of permitted standards. Submitter 90 also considers that councils must have financial responsibility for state of the environment monitoring.
Submitter 90 requests that the reference to "including industrial sites" should included a reference to "outside the boundary of industrial sites". The submitter also wants ambient monitoring to be accompanied by real-time meteorological data. The submitter requests that the council annual reports include details of where exceedances occur, the potential health effects, sources as determined by an emission inventory, and action being undertaken to improve air quality.
Submitter 113 comments that the costs of monitoring will increase, and questions the environmental benefit of such monitoring and annual reporting, particularly in smaller/rural areas.
Submitter 114 requests that a thorough evaluation of the current proposal be undertaken before further regulation is implemented, as indicated in the proposed standards.
Submitter 119 wants clarification on (a) what will be deemed sufficient to provide a reasonable picture of the concentrations of a pollutant and exposure to a pollutant, and (b) what will constitute adequate notification.
Submitter 120 wants the standards to include criteria or additional guidance that would assist regional councils to identify suitable ambient monitoring sites.
Submitter 122 has concerns with notifying exceedances because this has the potential to unfairly target industry, and industry is likely to be required to commission air dispersion modelling to prove that the effects are relatively minor compared to non-point sources. Furthermore, council may seek costs from industry to cover additional modelling and monitoring.
Submitter 127 seeks further information about how ambient air quality should be monitored, on the basis that comments relating to "reasonable judgement" are uncertain.
Submitter 133 requests that monitoring be undertaken to recognised international standards, and that quality assurance procedures be used for monitoring and data handling.
Submitters 133 and 154 request that a methodology/definition for determining what constitutes an air shed be included in the final standards.
Submitter 151 supports the approach to monitoring by regional councils and the requirement for annual reporting.
Submitter 162 requests that the regulations specify the monitoring requirements for regional councils and include appropriate enforcement provisions.
Submitter 164 considers that the amount of monitoring required will increase significantly. Presently many small towns are monitored using mini-volume samplers on a rotating basis. There would be a significant cost in installing permanent hi-vols in terms of purchase, maintenance and analysis. It would seem unnecessary to monitor air quality in these towns permanently when the problem is known to occur in winter. The submitter requests that a system that allows intermittent monitoring only when air quality is likely to be of concern be included in the standard. The submitter also wants an allowance for minimum monitoring requirements to be provided to reflect population and local air quality.
Submitter 175 wants a methodology for defining an air shed to be provided in the standard to help interpret the Ministry's proposal that compliance with the standards will be determined by examining the maximum concentrations within an air shed.
Submitter 175 requests that the Ministry's Good Practice Guide to Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management 2000 be updated so that it can be used to help decide the location of sites to monitor compliance with the standard.
Submitter 185 supports the likely increase in monitoring but considers that funding from government may be needed. The submitter also supports the requirement for an annual report.
Submitter 201 states that council monitoring programmes should be designed to allow the separation of natural background concentrations from those introduced by humans, and that the standard should be modified to reflect this.
Submitter 206 is concerned at the expense of monitoring, specialist staff, and changes to the regional plan that would be needed under the standard. Any costs of a plan review ahead of the normal review cycle should be met by government. The submitter is also concerned that the costs of ambient monitoring are understated and that smaller councils will not be able to achieve the proposed requirements within a four-year period. The submitter asks that the annual report requirement be able to be incorporated into other existing annual reports that local authorities are already producing, or that reports could be made available via websites only.
Submitter 208 supports this provision but is concerned that the level of ambient monitoring will be inadequate for the purpose, or the cost could be unreasonably high. The submitter seeks a cost-effectiveness analysis of introducing the standard compared to other methods, and wants a funding mechanism developed for the most cost-effective method.
Submitter 208 seeks further investigation into monitoring issues when determining ceiling limits of exceedance allowances, in particular where they are beyond the control of a regulatory agency, such as a bush fire affecting the PM10 ceiling limits.
Submitter 209 considers that "reasonable judgement" in regard to where ambient monitoring or modelling may be appropriate to gauge compliance needs to be more precisely defined.
Submitter 221 considers that the phrase "ability to find suitable monitoring sites" should be separated from the rest of the sentence and a clear indication of the need to resolve these difficulties specified. The submitter also comments that an inventory approach to assessing emissions is not necessarily accurate, and wants research to assess the traffic fraction to be made a priority.
Submitter 221 supports monitoring to verify compliance with the standard, in particular because estimation methods are uncertain.
Submitter 223 supports the proposed annual reporting and public notification requirements but also wants there to be a requirement for regional air quality monitoring data to be made available more frequently and in a format readily accessible to the public (eg, pollution indices).