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2 Overview of submissions

2.1 Summary of submitters' positions

A total of 1426 submissions were received. The majority of these (1203 or 84%) were form submissions from Greenpeace supporters. Table 1 presents a summary of submissions by source category.

Table 1: Submission breakdown, by source

Category No. of submissions

Academic

4

Small to medium business

73

Community and NGOs (Greenpeace)

1252 (1203)

Consulting/professional

12

Government - central agency, regional and local

36

Larger industry

49

Total

1426

Of the submissions received from government, nine were from central government departments, agencies or institutes, 13 from regional government and 14 from local government. Submissions from business included a total of 51 from small businesses associated with the Home Heating Association and primarily related to the proposed standard for solid-fuel-burning appliances.

Figure 1: Breakdown of submissions, by source

Figure 2: Breakdown of individual submissions
(excluding Greenpeace form submissions)

 

2.2 Key themes

The large majority of submissions (1203) were form submissions from Greenpeace supporters. The form submissions supported the proposed prohibited standards but called for the following additional prohibited standards and actions:

  • ban new high-temperature hazardous waste incinerators
  • ban municipal incineration, including waste-to-energy
  • ban backyard burning
  • ban new school and hospital incinerators
  • phase out existing incinerators
  • take further action to eliminate all dioxins from our air, land and water.

The Greenpeace submissions noted that incineration is dangerous, outdated and releases deadly dioxins, and noted that alternatives to incineration exist.

Of the remaining 223 individual submissions, 41 indicated support for the introduction of national environmental standards, although of these, 25 expressed concerns or reservations over some aspects of the proposal. Six submitters directly opposed the proposal.

A comprehensive thematic analysis was carried out on the individual submissions. Key themes were identified from a first initial reading of the submissions and then each submission was reviewed again. On this second review the submissions were categorised in relation to each of the main themes as follows:

  • supports this aspect of the proposal/issue
  • does not support or directly opposes this aspect of the proposal/issue
  • has reservations/concerns about this aspect of the proposal/issue.

The key themes identified are given in Table 2 and discussed in detail below.

Table 2: Key themes identified for analysis

Key theme Sub-theme

Overall submitter position

Support, conditional support, oppose

Proposed standards

Reasoning and formulation

Ambient standards:

- inclusion of annual limits

- percentiles inconsistent

Prohibitive standards:

- high-temperature hazardous waste incinerators

Solid-fuel-burning appliances

- includes efficiency measure

Regulation of motor vehicle emissions

Implementation

Timing (3-4 years)

How it will apply

Achieving objectives

Enforcement

Roles and responsibilities

Breaches/exceedances

How it would work

Potential impacts

Cost

Equity

Relocation / closure of industry / degradation of unpolluted areas

Guidance/clarity sought

Monitoring

Process and content for notification of exceedances

Relationship of the standards to the Air Quality Guidelines

Relationship with regional air plans

Emissions trading

Definitions (eg, air shed, hazardous waste, "insignificant")

Process

Lack of consultation

Desire to see cost-benefit analysis

Request for further input

The purpose of the thematic analysis is not simple numerical interpretation but rather an attempt to identify key themes and to understand which issues are of most concern to which submitters. Often submitters had individual concerns or made recommendations that needed to be summarised in more detail. This is addressed in chapter 3 of this document.

The thematic analysis allowed the following conclusions to be drawn.

  • Submitters were only slightly optimistic about the ability of the proposed standards to meet its stated objectives. Ten were of the opinion that they would, 20 thought they were heading in the right direction but needed work, and 11 disagreed. The objective most commented on was the inability to "achieve a level playing field" due to local government's ability to impose more stringent limits than those outlined in the proposed national environmental standards.
  • Possibly the most contentious issue was the proposed ban on high-temperature hazardous waste incinerators. The 1203 Greenpeace submissions supported the proposed ban, and commented that government must take action to eliminate all dioxins from our environment. These submissions noted that incineration releases dioxins, which are some of the most toxic chemicals ever made by humans and are linked to health problems such as cancer, birth defects and endometriosis. The submissions state that alternatives to incineration exist, such as steam sterilisation. Of the 223 individual submissions, 30 support the proposed ban, 17 were directly opposed and 24 expressed strong reservations. The reservations identified were based on:
    • the lack of feasible alternatives to deal with some waste streams (eg, biosecurity wastes)
    • the change in policy direction from the previous Ministry position to impose a dioxin emission limit of 0.1 ng/m3 for high temperature hazardous waste incinerators
    • the inequity in the approach compared to other dioxin sources such as domestic fires, when dioxin from hazardous waste incinerators comprises less than 0.1% of the New Zealand total
    • the fact that the policy is based on perception rather than effects.

    Suggestions made in response to these reservations were that:

    • the activity should be allowed if it can meet internationally accepted dioxin emission standards
    • a combination of the resource consent process and/or a national emission standard would be sufficient to address the issue and would allow for new technologies.
  • Twenty-three submitters were in support of the proposed ambient air quality standards, 22 supported the proposal but had concerns or reservations, and 11 were opposed. There were some concerns about the reasoning or basis for the proposed standards. Specific concerns included:
    • nine submitters queried the inconsistent application of percentile exceedance allowances
    • 14 submitters requested an annual standard for PM10
    • a few expressed concern that the proposed standards promote "pollution up to a standard"
    • a few requested that naturalparticulate sources such as sea salt should be excluded from ambient air quality measurements.
  • A large number of submitters (104) supported the proposed emission standard for solid-fuel-burning appliances, although the majority of these (84) expressed some reservations. Key issues here were:
    • the inconsistency with the current joint New Zealand / Australian standard, which requires 4 g/kg (the majority of these submissions were from businesses associated with the Home Heating Association)
    • 11 submissions requested an additional standard for thermal efficiency to allow comparison between different types of fuel (eg, wood vs coal)
    • the need to place controls on wood moisture content
    • uncertainty over who would implement and enforce the standard
    • the need for a definition of "urban areas"
    • the need for education at a national level on the operation of wood burners.
  • There was also strong support for the proposed prohibitive standards (hazardous waste incinerators are discussed above). Key concerns around the proposed prohibited standards were:
    • future costs for schools and hospitals - there appeared to be some confusion between boilers (which are not in the proposal) and incinerators (for which it is proposed that consent should be required)
    • exclusions on prohibiting the burning of oil in the open for fire training and film special effects purposes, and for frost protection (due to a lack of suitable alternatives)
    • the need to include a ban on backyard burning, particularly in urban areas.
  • Equity was a key issue identified, as shown in the following points.
    • Industry was primarily concerned at the focus on point source emissions, which does not equate with their relatively low contribution compared to other sources. The predominant concern was that the proposed standard would unfairly inhibit new development. Some submitters considered that technical standards or the best practicable option should be applied in degraded areas.
    • Many regional councils were concerned at the potential for the standards to limit new industrial development, and there was concern that industry may be forced to relocate to other areas, resulting in a degradation of air quality in areas that currently have good air quality.
    • Some regional councils and consulting/professionals expressed concern at the choice of prohibited activities. A few requested further banning of activities, such as backyard burning and all low-temperature waste incineration.
    • Most industry submitters were concerned that that they would have limited ability to work with other emitters to reduce emissions.
    • The concern was expressed that it would be difficult for new low-emission industry to develop in a polluted air shed.
  • Guidance and clarity were sought on a wide range of issues, including:
    • monitoring - where and how?
    • compliance - how is this demonstrated?
    • enforcement - what actually happens when a standard is breached, and how are exceedances notified?
    • the need for a review of existing consents as a result of the standards
    • how the ambient standards relate to the current ambient air quality guidelines
    • the roles and responsibilities of various agencies under the standards
    • definitions for a number of terms (eg, "urban", "incineration" and "hazardous waste"
    • how industry developers would off-set future emissions in air sheds that were already compromised (three submissions opposed this, five sought clarification and one expressed full support).
  • Cost was a key concern for industry and regional councils. A number of industry submissions felt that ambient air quality monitoring is a regional council responsibility and should be borne by rate payers.
  • Implementation issues revolved around how the standard would work in practice. Thirty-three submissions commented on the proposed timeline for ambient standards of three to four years, with the majority considering it to be too short.
  • There was dissatisfaction over the lack of time to prepare submissions. Twenty-eight submitters commented on this specifically, with 14 requesting further input in the future.
  • Similarly, 23 submitters expressed dissatisfaction over the cost-benefit analysis not being available at the time of the proposed standards.
  • Eighteen submitters noted that central government needs to address motor vehicles, because these represent a significant portion of emissions.
  • A number of submitters were concerned that they were unable to comment on the proposed wording of the final regulations, either at the time of notification or later in the process.