The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) were introduced in New Zealand in 2004. These standards provide a level of protection for the health of New Zealanders and our natural environment. It is our responsibility to ensure that the Bay of Plenty meets these standards.
New Zealand’s air space is divided into 74 ‘airsheds’, or legally designated air quality management areas. In Bay of Plenty we have one region-wide airshed and within that space two separate airsheds for Rotorua and Mount Maunganui. You can see the extent of the two separate airsheds below.
Both the Rotorua and Mount Maunganui airsheds have a poor air quality record and are classified as polluted under the NESAQ. Both airsheds have issues with airborne particulate matter, specifically particulate matter smaller than 10 millionths of a metre (PM10). By creating an airshed around these two areas it means Regional Council can better manage the issue and introduce specific rules if required.
Rotorua has the worst winter air quality of any airshed in the North Island. Approximately 228 tonnes of fine particulates are discharged annually into Rotorua's air by people heating their homes over winter and, because the town sits in a caldera, this results in smoke settling due to limited air movement.
We need to reduce the volume of particulates by 60 tonnes to meet the safe and acceptable standards set by the Ministry for Environment.
- Read more about what is being done to address this issue at www.cleanairrotorua.co.nz.
Mount Maunganui Airshed
The Port of Tauranga and the Mount Maunganui industrial area also have an issue with PM10, however, unlike Rotorua, it is primarily caused by industrial discharges. The Mount Maunganui airshed was introduced to enable tighter rules and resource consent decisions and a greater ability to manage industrial discharges.
It means new consent applications for activities that discharge PM10 cannot be granted consent if they are likely to increase offsite PM10 concentrations. This is unless the discharge can be offset by at least an equivalent PM10 reduction in another part of the airshed.
- Read more about Mount Maunganui industrial air quality here.