Caring for the environment  |  30 Jul 2020

Christchurch City Council is supporting the introduction of stricter air quality standards and lower emissions for new log burners.

At a meeting yesterday the Council agreed to make a submission to the Ministry for the Environment in favour of amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) proposed by the Government.

Council Head of Strategic Policy Emma Davis says the Council’s feedback is aimed at supporting a healthier environment.

“We believe the amendments to the NESAQ will improve environmental and health outcomes by reducing air pollution, and this will contribute to safer communities. What is of note is that the rules currently in place for most of Christchurch already meet or exceed the proposed requirements with regard to emissions from log burners.”

The Council’s submission supports:

  • The introduction of new air quality standards for particulate matter that are 2.5 microns or smaller in size, as well as the use of the new PM2.5 standards as the measures for determining compliance with clean air standards. This is in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.
  • A reduced standard for new and replacement solid fuel burners from no more than 1.5 g particulates per kg of solid fuel burned, to 1 g per kg
  • New requirements to control mercury air emissions from specific manufacturing processes and commercial and industrial operations. 

“The addition of PM2.5 standards provides for a greater protection of human health compared to the current provisions of the NESAQ, as finer particles have been determined to have a more significant effect on human health,” Ms Davis says.

Christchurch’s air quality has improved noticeably since the regional council adopted the Canterbury Air Regional Plan.

Under the plan, from January 2019 owners of residential properties under two hectares located in the Christchurch Clean Air Zone, which covers most urban areas of the city, must install ultra-low emission burners (which emit 0.5 g per kg of fuel burned) for new or replacement home heating. 

For residential properties over two hectares, new or replacement solid fuel burners must be low emission (no more than 1 g total suspended particulate per kg of fuel burned) or ultra-low emission.

The inclusion of new requirements for emissions of mercury to air would allow New Zealand to take an important step towards ratifying the Minamata Convention for Mercury, which New Zealand signed in 2013.

The Council also submitted on 2010 amendments to the NESAQ.

Information on the latest proposed amendments can be found here. Consultation on the proposals closes on 31 July.