This chapter addresses the management of air quality. Most people living in the Region enjoy air that is clean and clear. The high standard of air quality exists not only because of the exposed nature of the Region’s landscape to the prevailing winds but also because the Region is mainly rural, with a low population density compared to large urban centres, and a comparatively small number of industrial emissions.

Discharges to air can include odour, products of combustion, agrichemical* spray drift*, particulate matter, solvents, nitrogen oxides, and other gases. They can be complex in nature and have the potential to cause adverse effects on ambient air quality and human health. Certain discharges must be assessed individually and regulated appropriately.

Odours, smoke and dust have dominated complaints received by the Regional Council for some time, making up more than half of the complaints received between 2000 and 2004. Some of these emissions can also be harmful to human, animal and plant health. Setting clear regional standards for ambient air* quality, a 24-hour pollution hotline service and provision of public information are intended to help reduce the potential for adverse health and noxious, dangerous, offensive and objectionable effects.

In 2004 14 national environmental standards relating to air quality were introduced. These national regulations place a requirement on Regional Councils to monitor air quality and to report ambient air* quality exceedances to the public. The primary purpose of the national ambient air* quality standards is to set minimum requirements for outdoor air quality in order to provide a guaranteed level of protection for the health of all New Zealanders. The Regional Council has established airsheds for Taihape and Taumarunui (see Schedule H1) for the purpose of managing ambient air* quality.

The ambient standards have been adopted in this Plan. However, in most cases they have minimal impacts on industrial emissions, which will largely continue to be regulated in the same manner as in the past. As degraded air quality can impact on human health, the Health Act 1956 also gives Territorial Authorities and health boards some responsibilities for dust, smoke and odour. Because of this overlap, some adverse effects are not dealt with as efficiently as they could be. The Regional Council is committed to establishing protocols with Territorial Authorities and health boards to establish clear relationships for response.

1    Schedule H is not a component of Part I - the Regional Policy Statement. It is a component of Part II - the Regional Plan.