Southland unable to meet air levels

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014

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Southland is unlikely to comply with the national standards for air quality by 2016, Environment Southland monitoring data shows.

Environment Southland's air quality report card, released this week, shows during winter 2013 there were 12 occasions when Invercargill went over the government-set standard of air pollution. Gore exceeded levels on three occasions.

In 2004 the Ministry for the Environment released The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality, which after a 2009 amendment, states areas with severe air pollution, such as Invercargill, must reduce the number of pollution exceedances to no more than three a year by 2016.

Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said it was unlikely the standards would be met by 2016.

The council was trying to balance the ministry guidelines with the need for people to be warm in their homes, he said.

While the 2013 figures were lower than the number of breaches in 2012, when there were 23, that was down to a warmer-than-usual winter.

Other regional councils were also struggling to make serious gains in improving their air quality and it was a national problem, he said.

Environment Southland planner Jason Domigan said they were working on a plan change to air quality, mainly to try to phase out non-complying burners. However, it would still be "very difficult" to reach the ministry target. Drastic changes would hit people financially so the council was being mindful of that, he said.

A plan change was expected to be made public in August , after which people could make submissions and have their say, he said.

FACTBOX

2010: 35 days when pm10 levels exceeded ministry guidelines

2011: 13

2012: 23

2013: 12

Invercargill must have no more than three exceedances by September 2016, and 1 by 2020. 

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