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.