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6 Amenity impacts of PM10 in New Zealand

6.1 Complaints registers

Most of the regional councils within New Zealand keep a register of complaints relating to amenity impacts associated with concentrations of particles. These are not an ideal indicator of the extent of the problem, as a number of external factors will influence the reporting of an incident. For example, factors such as awareness of the impacts and who to report to, duration of an issue and relationships with those responsible may impact on a person's tendency to make a complaint. However, the registers do provide some indication of the frequency of complaints and the types of issues for different areas. Table 6.1 summarises information supplied by regional councils on the frequency and type of complaints relating to particle pollution.

Table 6.1: Summary of data from complaints registers

 

  1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

Hawkes Bay RC

               
  • smoke
       

16

27

41

35

  • dust/particles
       

20

29

21

52

Marlborough DC

             

20

Environment Canterbury

               
  • domestic heating
           

277

336

  • rubbish fires
           

428

328

  • dust

39

125

138

108

75

85

103

188

Wellington RC

17

13

18

24

31

58

60

27

Taranaki RC

33

57

41

37

92

46

58

103

Northland RC

               
  • smoke/visibility

52

73

98

139

98

83

80

91

  • dust

19

21

27

43

37

36

31

12

Environment Waikato

               
  • dust
           

51

67

  • domestic burning
           

10

16

  • rural burning
           

20

18

  • industrial burning
           

38

80

In addition, the West Coast Regional Council indicated that it received 38 complaints relating to air quality from January 2000 to June 2002. These have predominantly occurred because of industrial activities, domestic emissions, school boiler emissions and coal handling. In Southland, the majority of the air discharge complaints relate to odour rather than particles, although a few smoke and dust issues have been recorded. Unsealed roads and pollen have given rise to a few dust complaints in Southland.

In Taranaki, a reduction in complaints relating to dust from abrasive blasting is associated with increased controls over emissions from this source through the resource consent process.

In Wellington the majority of the complaints reported related to smoke emissions from industrial processes, although smoke from outdoor burning and home heating were also common. A few complaints were recorded relating to mobile sources such as the Arahura Ferry and specific motor vehicles.

6.2 Economic implications

The amenity effects associated with localised and ambient concentrations of particles also have an economic cost, which is associated with reduced visibility, nuisance effects and general reduced enjoyment of the environment. While these costs could be sizeable, they are minor in comparison to the costs associated with health impacts such as mortality, morbidity and restricted activity days (Bicknell, 2001). In addition, factors such as reduced visibility could have further economic impacts if the tourism industry were affected. In particular, poor visibility could impact on New Zealand's current 'clean green' image reducing its attraction as a holiday destination. The value of this image in terms of tourism has been estimated at between $500 million and $1000 million (MfE, 2001).

An assessment of the cost associated with effects such as reduced visibility is typically carried out based on willingness to pay (WTP) surveys. While a small number of such studies have been carried out in the United States, the acceptability of visibility degradation and value placed on visibility improvements are likely to be area specific (Wilton and Spronkin Smith, 2002).

Cost estimates associated with the soiling of materials such as buildings and clothes can also be estimated using WTP data from surveys (e.g. as described in Bicknell, 2001) or based on a combination of cleaning costs and amenity costs, as described in Watkiss et al (2001). Costs associated with damage to crops will vary depending on the extent of deposition and the type of crop. Other potential costs associated with amenity impacts of particles include devaluation of real estate, for example, as a result of visibility degradation or where nuisance effects associated with smoke or dusts occur regularly.