Otago air quality plan going ahead
Central Otago residents will be required to comply with a ban on open fires, inefficient woodburners, and multifuel burners from the end of next year despite the Government extending the introduction of the national standard for air quality.
The Otago Regional Council has announced it was standing behind its Otago Air Plan in a bid to decrease air pollution in Central Otago towns.
Regional council director of policy and resource planning Fraser McRae said the plan would take priority over the national environment standard for air quality.
The Government's standard was to be introduced by 2013 but had been extended to 2016.
Otago Air Zone 1, which includes Alexandra, Arrowtown, Clyde, and Cromwell, consistently recorded some of the worst winter air pollution in New Zealand.
The biggest cause of the pollution was domestic fires, Mr McRae said.
The council's approach was more stringent than the government's because scientific modelling had shown the air quality in Air Zone 1 would not comply with the standard through voluntary replacement of inefficient heating appliances alone, he said.
People were making changes as part of house renovations or appliance upgrades, however it was not enough to reduce the dense pollution that cloaked Central Otago towns in winter, he said.
Mr McRae said the extended government timeframe did not alter the fact that residents needed to think seriously about how they would heat their homes this winter.
Heath experts had linked air pollution to serious deterioration in health and "the sooner people here get the air clean, the sooner they get the health benefits that go with that", Mr McRae said.
BAD AIR DAYS
Air pollution statistics from January 1 to August 31 2010.
Days when the average PM10 level is higher than 50ig/m3 are called high-pollution days.
The Southland Times