Rather than lobbying the Government to relax air pollution
standards, the Otago Regional Council should seek the
reinstatement of more substantial subsidies for insulation
and clean heating options, Cr Gretchen Robertson says.
Otago towns have not met regional air quality targets and are
unlikely to meet national standards triggering an Otago
Regional Council review of its air quality management
Councillors agreed at a technical committee meeting yesterday
it was always going to be a ''tough ask'' to meet regional
standards set in 2006, and even national standards relaxed
Cr Brian Scott said the report presented to the committee
showed the council had no choice but to change tack and do
Cr Doug Brown said an approach to the Government might be
needed given the difficulties Otago faced because of the
climate and topography of Central Otago.
Cr Robertson said given the health risks air pollution posed
and that many of the towns affected were ''iconic'' places
where the ''pure'' tourism approach applied, if the council
was to go to the Government it needed to be for the
reinstatement of subsidies.
''We need to show they have been effective and have made a
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said Otago was not on its
own when it came to struggling to meet national air quality
targets and the chief executives of South Island regional
councils were looking at the issue as a South Island problem.
Without huge subsidies, changing people's behaviour was
always going to happen slowly and incrementally, he said.
Tolerance of air emissions was decreasing, which was
reflected in the number of complaints the council regularly
The report was a ''reality check'' and the review was timely.
It needed to cover issues such as funding, goals and new time
frames, he said.
Cr Trevor Kempton said the biggest issue the region faced was
not being able to control the quality of fuel being burnt, as
it did not matter how compliant a log burner was if dry fuel
was not used.
Cr Graeme Bell said the council had to present the report to
the community boards and councils of the affected areas and
get their support for any approach to the Government.
Cr Gerry Eckhoff said people were more worried about keeping
warm using an affordable heat source than air pollution.
The council continued to offer subsidies in high pollution
areas but at a reduced level since funding from the
Environment Ministry ended last July.
A council workshop would be held in April to further discuss