On 1st September 2005 Hawke’s Bay Today reported:

“New national air-quality standards which require regional councils to reduce air pollution come into effect today.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council must monitor air quality, publicly report whenever the air in the region exceeds the standards, and plan to improve air quality so they comply with the standards by 2013.

Home heating is the major source of air pollution in Hawke’s Bay, accounting for around 90 percent of the fine particles (PM10) in the air in Napier and Hastings, a study presented to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council found.”

Unfortunately, it appears that the day after this report the Regional Council fell into deep sleep, as in ZZZZZZZZZZ!

And so now, five years after doing nothing to meet the new standard, our Regional Councillors, Mayor Yule, MP Craig Foss and other “leaders” in the Bay boast that they recently managed to get the Environment Minister to postpone the deadline for five years (they sought a seven year delay). Indeed, as reported here by BayBuzz, Mayor Yule considers the delay one of the top three achievements of his present term.

It seems that once the Regional Council woke up after all these years (during which period most other Regional Councils acted to meet the standard), there just wasn’t enough time or installation capacity physically available to meet the deadline by phasing in healthier home heating options. Hence, “Duh, we need an extension!”

So now our community — especially our children and the elderly — will bear the health and productivity consequences of PM10 pollution for five more years than we needed to. The health impacts are increased asthma and all sorts of respiratory and cardiovascular complications. The productivity impacts are lost work and school days.

At no point in our regional leaders’ lobbying to delay the deadline did anyone attempt to quantify the economic cost of the projected health and productivity losses in the region associated with failing to meet the healthy air standard. Whereas in Christchurch studies estimated the average non-complying woodburner generated health costs alone of at least $2,700 every year.

Meanwhile, we’re off to a great start this PM10 season … already Hastings as exceeded the permitted pollution standard ten times.

Thanks for your leadership on this one Regional Councillors, Mayors and MPs.

Tom Belford

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  1. The non compliant woodburner health issue is

    an identified serious one in Hastings and a lesser but significant one in Napier.

    One equally or more so is responsible for health problems across the province especially in the young and elderly (like wood burners) from contageous hepititis and gastroenteritis is being avoided because the primary cause is thousands of antiquated septic tanks that will cost mega bucks to eradicate with secondary wastewater reticulated treatment plants.

    Only an estimated 1 in 30 are consented secondary treatment system post 1996 in HB.

    In many cases wood burners and septic tanks are being operated by the same house owners.

    The level of hypocrisy is frustrating having myself and an employee contracted Hepititis when working on new houses in one of Napiers septic tank serviced areas and having first hand knowledge of other cases in Napier and Hastings and across HB. The systems we contracted disease from are still operatng 23 years later despite having been identified in numerous submissions over past 18 years.

    I spent 11 years as a young contractor in the UK from 1962 to 1973 working on major disease eradication projects associated with septic tanks and substandard municiple treatment plants that were degrading rivers exactly the same as with the Tuki and many other rivers lakes and esturies in NZ.

    NZ is 50 years behind the Western world in safe wastewater disposal responsibilities

    Lots of noise about woodburners where the cost of upgrades is passed on to individuals but silence from authorities including the DHB and evasion of doing anything about septic tank health threats to all not just those who operate non compliant systems at no cost to themselves unless they contract a disease then bingo an upgrade.

    A single tank is often responsible for a major outbreak of disease that has no boundaries.

    The DHB Community Health Unit (CHU) admitted to me early this year it has no correlated data on Notified Disease that is not madatory to report. What convenient hypocrisy.

    Perhaps Bay Buzz could address this festering community health issue as well as others it has focussed on effectively?

  2. Our so-called civic leaders should be ashamed that they have knowingly allowed Hawke's Bay to be the worst region in New Zealand to address it's air pollution (as cited by the Minister), and then they boast about it.

    It really is no wonder that tourism, economic development and population growth all languish in this region while they sit on their hands.

    My guess is that we need some new faces with a more progressive plan to allow Hawke's Bay to achieve it's potential.

  3. Wonder what correlation there is between the high incidence of asthma and lung diseases in HB (not to mention various cancers) and the lousy air quality?

    Also from memory stats estimate between 1-3 deaths per year in HB have bad air quality as at least a contributing factor; so the extension just cost between 5 and 15 lives.

    Perhaps Yule could brag about that….

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