28 November 2019

A new, official airshed covering the Mount Maunganui industrial area will help Bay of Plenty Regional Council better manage air quality in the area – enabling tighter rules and consent decisions and a greater ability to manage industrial discharges.

Associate Minister for the Environment, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta approved the airshed, which becomes effective from today, 28 November 2019, after Regional Council requested more management tools from Central Government to address increasing concerns around dust and poor air quality in the area.

Bay of Plenty Regional Deputy Chair, Jane Nees, said looking after the region’s air quality is part of the council’s role as guardians of the local environment.

Mount airshed

Above: The Mount Maunganui Airshed (in blue) and Mount Maunganui industrial area.

“The community have been concerned about the quality of air in the Mount Maunganui industrial area for some time and as a result, the Council put a network of monitors in place across the area to better understand the problem,” said Cr Nees.

“At $500,000 a year this has been a significant investment, but in the last 12 months since monitoring began, we have detected a number of exceedances of the PM10 limits which is simply not acceptable," she said.

Under the new Mount Maunganui Airshed, new consent applications for activities that discharge a fine inhalable dust, called particulate matter (or PM10), as part of their processes, cannot be granted consent if they are likely to increase offsite PM10 concentrations. This is ​unless the pollutants can be offset in some way in another part of the airshed.

The fine dust can cause breathing and health problems, particularly for the elderly and children, and for those suffering from asthma.

“The new Airshed means we can specifically target industrial discharges in this area and introduce tighter restrictions if required,” said Cr Nees.

“While this won’t address the odour issues we get hundreds of calls about each year, for the communities living next door, as well as those who work on site or travel through the area, this is a great step in the right direction,” said Cr Nees.

The Regional Council has proactively been working with industry, log handlers, dry bulk material (such as palm kernel) distributors and the Port of Tauranga to address the dust problem and is seeing some real improvement.

“We’re seeing more sweeper trucks, water carts and sealed storage facilities being used, but to improve air quality in this area some businesses are going to have to change the way they do things. Aging infrastructure and equipment needs to be upgraded and more dusty surfaces sealed. This will simply be part of doing business in this area in the future.

“Our role as a regional council is to look after and monitor our environment, so that it can be enjoyed by everyone, for generations to come. Ensuring clean air is an important part of this role,” she said.

“We also want to acknowledge the huge amount of work done by the communities who are especially affected by air pollution in this area, such as those living in the Whareroa area, to demand better,” said Cr Nees.

For more information, check out the Mount industrial air quality project page.