We all want clean air to breathe, but this is not a given. Here in the Bay of Plenty our air quality is pretty good most of the time, but we do have our own issues to deal with.

These vary from seasonal issues like dust in summer or smoky fires in winter to pollution and odour issues in industrial areas. Plan Change 13 to the Regional Natural Resources Plan, which replaces the Regional Air Plan, aims to protect and improve our air quality by setting rules for those who discharge into the air.

Every year our Pollution Hotline receives thousands of calls about pollution across the region. Air quality makes up about 60% of these calls.

We notified Plan Change 13 on 27 February 2018 and received 80 submissions and 30 further submissions

Hearings were held in October 2018 and Council released its decisions on the submissions on 12 March 2019.

Ten appeals were lodged with the Environment Court against Council's decisions.

Plan Change 13 will be incorporated into the Regional Natural Resources Plan as the Air chapter and become operative on 6 June 2023.

Please note that the following rule and definition under Plan Change 13 is still under appeal:

AQ R22 Handling of bulk solid materials – Discretionary – (tba) – Ka whiriwhirihia

Unless otherwise permitted by AQ R26, the discharge of contaminants to air from the handling of bulk solid materials where:

  • the rate of bulk solid material handling exceeds 20 tonnes in any hour, and the discharge occurs less than 100 metres from any sensitive area, or
  • the rate of bulk solid material handling exceeds 50 tonnes in any hour, is a discretionary activity.

Bulk solid material means means materials consisting of, or including, fragments that could be discharged as dust or particulates. These materials include but are not limited to: gravel, quarried rock, fertiliser, coal, cement, flour, rock aggregate, grains, compost, palm kernel extract, tapioca, and woodchip.

Rule AQ R22 requires resource consent for the handling of bulk solid material and logs. Previously, these were permitted activities. There have been a number of dust issues in the Mount Maunganui area, including several breaches of the national standards for PM10 (particulates). The Mount Maunganui Airshed (MMA) was declared a polluted airshed in late 2019.

The process has been prolonged as the Court navigates its way through needing to protect the health of residents living close to the activities in question (Whareroa Marae and Aerodrome Road) while providing a pathway for nationally significant economic activities to continue.

The matter was substantially complicated by Regulation 17 of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) which requires consent authorities to decline resource consents for new discharges into polluted airsheds. As these activities have not previously held a resource consent they are considered new activities.

The Court has heard extensive evidence over a prolonged period and issued its interim decision.

In summary:

  • Bulk solid material handling and log handling will be permitted activities for a three-year interim period – managed according to an interim permitted activity rule (IPAR)
  • Following the IPAR period, the activities will become restricted discretionary activities and will require resource consent. Prior to this, if parties apply for and are granted a Certificate of Compliance, Regulation 17 will not apply.
  • The Court will direct the Regional Council to introduce provisions to manage unsealed yards in the MMA using the section 293 process of the Resource Management Act.

Original submissions

Copies of submissions by submission number are available by clicking on the submitter number below:

Further submissions

Relevant information

Hearing schedules

Documents and evidence submitted at hearings

The appellants

The appeals are being dealt with by the Environment Court, which has grouped the appeals into six topics:

  • Topic 1 – Appeals proposed to be resolved by direct negotiation
  • Topic 2 – Handling of bulk solids material
  • Topic 3 – Reverse sensitivity
  • Topic 4 – Objectives, Policies, Rule AQ R1 and new Method and Definitions
  • Topic 5 – Open Burning
  • Topic 6 – Agrichemical Spraying

Most of the appeals should be resolved through Court-assisted mediation. This page will be updated with the Consent Orders and Environment Court decisions as they are released.

The Case Manager for the appeals is:

Marina Tateoka
Phone: 09 351 2369
Email: marina.tateoka@justice.govt.nz

Rotorua woodburners

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If you have any questions about the Air Plan, please contact Karen Parcell on 0800 884 881 ex 9346.