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Debate over proposed changes to air quality standards

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
David Clendon
David Clendon

Wellington, June 11 NZPA - Environment Minister Nick Smith says changes to air quality requirements will save thousands of jobs, but Greens MP David Clendon says it will put lives at risk.

Dr Smith yesterday released proposed amendments to the National Air Quality Standard.

The existing standard, set by the previous Labour government, was "unrealistic" because it allowed only one excess a year and would mean banning log burners in homes and businesses in areas with good air quality.

The Environment Ministry has proposed five excesses a year and the technical advisory group, established by National, recommended three, Dr Smith said.

It would still mean "substantial work" as excesses were as high as 91 in some areas of the country.

The existing standards were "also unfair in severely punishing business" when most pollution comes from home fires and motor vehicles, he said.

He said changes must ensure air quality was improved in a pragmatic and realistic way.

"It will ensure we do not put thousands of jobs at risk or unnecessarily ban home burners and open fires in areas with only occasional air quality problems."

Another amendment included mandatory public reporting by councils.

Mr Clendon said the proposed changes were trading New Zealanders health for private profits.

"Lives and economic productivity are at stake."

The Government should offer support and incentives to help businesses and houses meet clean air targets rather than lowering standards, he said.

Air pollution costs over $1 billion a year and the health and Air Pollution in New Zealand report estimated 1100 people died yearly because of air pollution, Mr Clendon said.

"Clean air is essential to our economic and environmental wellbeing."

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