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7 Achieving compliance

This section looks at other aspects of the regulations. It includes a review of action plans and more general issues such as the potential for perverse incentives.

7.1 Action plans for PM10

Table 8 lists all airsheds that currently exceed the PM10 standard, along with each council’s assessment of whether there is an action plan in place and the likelihood of meeting the PM10 standard by 2013. It should be noted that the review did not address the adequacy of any action plans. (It should also be noted that Gisborne District Council and Taranaki Regional Council already comply with the PM10 standard, hence their exclusion from this table).

The review shows that of the 39 airsheds considered likely to exceed the PM10 standard, 31 currently exceed the PM10 standard. (The regulations impose monitoring and reporting requirements on airsheds likely to exceed the ambient standards, hence the previous distinction in this review). Of these 31 airsheds currently exceeding the PM10 standard, two-thirds (20 airsheds) are considered likely to comply with the PM10 standard by 2013. This means that one-third (11 airsheds) are considered unlikely to comply.

Note that the assessment of whether or not an airshed will comply is based on the judgement of each council. This judgement is based in turn on a number of assumptions and may not necessarily be consistent across all councils.

The review also shows that in 2008, 16 of the 31 airsheds currently exceeding the PM10 standard had an action plan in place to address compliance. Although a number of these anticipate compliance without an action plan, five airsheds currently exceed the PM10 standard, have no action plan in place, and are unlikely to reach compliance by 2013. Of these, one airshed is heavily over-allocated (Reefton). Considering the likelihood of compliance even with an action plan in place, a further six airsheds are anticipated not to reach compliance by 2013.

As an aside, one airshed (Wairarapa - Masterton) alternates each year between compliance and non-compliance with the PM10 standard. Greater Wellington considers that Masterton is unlikely to comply with the PM10 standard by 2013. For the purposes of the review, therefore, Masterton is categorised as currently exceeding the PM10 standard.

Table 8: Airsheds, existence of action plans and assessment of compliance

Council

Airshed with action plan in place, or drafted

Airshed with no action plan

 

Likely to comply

Unlikely to comply

Likely to comply

Unlikely to comply

Auckland

     

Auckland

Bay of Plenty

Rotoruaa

     

Canterburyb

Ashburtona

Geraldine

Rangiora

Waimate

Christchurcha

Kaiapoia

Timarua

   

Hawke’s Bayc

 

Hastingsa

Napier

   

Horizons

   

Taumarunui

 

Marlborough

   

Blenheim

 

Nelson

Nelson Aa

Nelson B

     

Northland

   

Whangarei

 

Otago

Airshed 1a

Airshed 3

Airshed 2 (Milton)a

   

Southland

   

Invercargill

Gore

 

Tasman

Richmonda

     

Waikato

   

Hamilton

Putaruru

Tokoroaa

Te Kuiti

Taupo

Wellington

   

Wainuiomata

Upper Hutt

Mastertond

(Wairarapa)

West Coast

     

Reeftona

a Heavily over-allocated airshed.

b Environment Canterbury advise they are taking a variety of measures to address air pollution in Timaru, including proposed plan changes, the Clean Heat project and a working party. The original interview did not define this as an action plan. Table 8 and appendix 2 have been amended to reflect this advice, but the original interview comments have not been updated.

c Hawke’s Bay Regional Council notified a proposed plan change to achieve compliance with the ambient standards in December 2008, after this review was completed. Table 8 and appendix 2 have been amended to reflect this change, but the original interview comments have not been updated.

d Masterton (Wairarapa) airshed alternates annually between compliance and non-compliance with the PM10 standard. Greater Wellington considers that Masterton is unlikely to comply with the PM10 standard by 2013.

7.2 Sulphur dioxide

The Marsden Point airshed is unique in New Zealand in being gazetted for sulphur dioxide (SO2). Northland Regional Council ambient air quality monitoring indicates the airshed is currently complying with the SO2 ambient standard, but notes that monitoring only began in early 2008. The Council estimates there is a 60–70 per cent probability the Marsden Point airshed will continue to comply with the SO2 ambient standard. The 30–40 per cent uncertainty rests primarily on unplanned outages at the Marsden Point oil refinery. Such outages have historically contributed to breaches of the SO2 ambient standard.

The Council has prepared the Marsden Point Strategic Air Quality Plan, the intent of which is to plan for future industry in the SO2-constrained airshed.

7.3 Perverse incentives

The review questioned whether any perverse incentives (ie, unintended negative consequences) had been created by the introduction of the regulations. Councils (and the Ministry) have direct experience of being advised by a retailer that a multi-fuel burner can easily run on wood to “get around the regulations” (the regulations only apply to wood burners). The concern is that this could lead to an increase in multi-fuel burner installations. Multi-fuel burners typically have higher emissions than wood burners.

The following additional concerns were noted.

  • Northland notes a trend towards true green-field sites for the location of new industry. For example, Goldpine proposed a new sawmill in Ruakaka, well away from other industrial areas. This may have the unintended effect of ‘filling up’ previously clean airsheds with particulate pollution.

  • Two councils reported industries are applying for consent early to avoid the 2013 deadline. Applicants identified include Huntly Power Station (Waikato), Golden Bay Cement and a Carter Holt Harvey sawmill (Whangarei). Tasman District Council notes that Nelson Pine are also considering early application, although this is also influenced by changes in surrounding land use.

  • There has been an increase in the granting of long-term consents to avoid the 2013 deadline.

In early 2009 the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council proposed a plan change that would make all discharges from industry a permitted activity.

7.4 Review of implementation

This review shows that councils are confident that the majority of airsheds (two-thirds) that currently exceed the standard will meet the PM10 standard by 2013. The Ministry’s view is that, on the whole, councils have been working hard to implement the regulations. Details of innovative approaches and best practice air quality management initiatives are discussed further in section 8. This section of the review focuses on the remaining areas of non-compliance.

Action plan in place, unlikely to comply by 2013

At the time of review in mid-2008, councils identified three airsheds currently exceeding the PM10 standard, with an action plan in place, but unlikely to reach compliance by 2013:

  • Christchurch

  • Kaiapoi

  • Airshed 2 (Milton).

No action plan in place, unlikely to comply by 2013

Since the review was carried out in mid-2008, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has notified a proposed plan change for Hastings and Napier. As a result, there are currently five airsheds
that exceed the PM10 standard, have no action plan in place and are unlikely to reach compliance by 2013:

  • Auckland

  • Te Kuiti

  • Taupo

  • Masterton (Wairarapa)

  • Reefton.

When queried about air quality initiatives in these airsheds, council responses varied from extensive air quality management actions (Auckland Regional Council) to sparse details (West Coast Regional Council).

Responses are summarised for each council in appendix 3.

Councils identified the following risks and barriers to achieving the PM10 standard by 2013 in these areas:

  • the length of time required for planning processes (eg, Auckland Regional Council still has sections of their regional air plan under appeal)

  • the lack of base information (monitoring data, emissions inventories, airshed modelling) on which to make policy (West Coast Regional Council)

  • the lack of central government funding (Environment Waikato).

Recommendations of the National Air Quality Working Group

The National Air Quality Working Group (NAQWG) is a technical advisory group comprising representatives from all regional councils and unitary authorities, as well as central government agencies including the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Health, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The NAQWG reports to the regional managers group (comprising second-tier managers from all regional councils and unitary authorities) which, in turn, reports to the Chief Executive Officers Group (CEOs of all regional councils and unitary authorities).

In May 2008, the NAQWG recommended the following.

  • There are some ‘quick fixes’ available to both councils and the Ministry that could make a big difference, including:

    • the point of sale rule (when introduced as a bylaw)
    • inclusion of other burners in the regulations (eg, non-complying burners and multi-fuel burners) for compromised airsheds
    • no new open solid fires in new homes.
  • Different councils are at different stages of compliance with the PM10 standard and there may be a need for compromise (ie, non-compliance plans for councils).

  • There is a strong need for continued central government funding (Clean Heat programmes through EECA).

In November 2008 the regional managers group wrote to the Ministry requesting no change to the 2013 deadline in the regulations. Shifting the goalposts was seen as increasing uncertainty and potentially undermining the good work done by early adopters.

What can the Ministry do?

Auckland Regional Council, Environment Canterbury and Environment Waikato were unanimous in suggesting the Ministry amend the regulations to regulate and/or ban new solid-fuel open fires, coal burners and multi-fuel burners in airsheds that exceed the PM10 standard. Environment Canterbury and Environment Waikato further requested that non-compliant burners be phased out by 2013. Environment Canterbury requested further funding for clean heat retrofits under the EECA Clean Heat and EnergyWise programmes and a national ban on outdoor burning in airsheds exceeding the PM10 standard.

The Ministry notes that 10 airsheds currently exceed and have no action plan, and yet are likely to meet the PM10 standard by 2013. This may be, at least in part, a sign of the effectiveness of the wood burner design standards. At the same time it is clear that the wood burner design standards are not going far enough for polluted airsheds because there are repeated calls for additional regulation. There are also strong efficiency reasons for national action on gross polluters such as open fires as opposed to making every regional council enact regional rules.

The Ministry notes that EECA funding for clean heat retrofits is currently over-subscribed.

Environment Canterbury requested the Ministry undertake a national campaign to promote the benefits of cleaner air.