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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 6.1 Regional and Local Air Management » 6.1.3 Policies

6.1.3 Policies

Policy 1: Low Risk Discharges to Air Enabled
Enable the discharge of contaminants into air through permitted and controlled activity rules where:

  1. there are no significant adverse effects on human health and the health of flora and fauna from discharges of hazardous air pollutants,
  2. there is no odour that is objectionable to the extent that it causes an adverse effect beyond the property boundary,
  3. suspended or deposited particulate matter are not objectionable to the extent that they cause adverse effects beyond the property boundary,
  4. significant adverse effects on, or changes to, visibility beyond the property boundary are avoided or remedied,
  5. air quality beyond the property boundary does not cause accelerated corrosion or accelerated deterioration.

Policy 2: Managing Effects of Other Discharges
Manage other discharges of contaminants to air through controlled and discretionary activity rules having particular regard to the effects of the discharge on:

  1. ambient air quality compared to the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guidelines (RAAQG) levels provided in Chapter 6.3,
  2. ambient air quality compared to internationally accepted air quality guidelines or standards for managing and understanding the effects of contaminants on human health, the health of flora and fauna and amenity values,
  3. ambient odour and particulate matter levels compared to the guidelines for assessment provided in Chapter 6.4 of the Plan for odour and particulate matter
  4. adverse effects from contaminants that are hazardous in ambient air, particularly with respect to human health,
  5. the significant characteristics of air quality within an area,
  6. significant adverse effects of the discharge on the identified values of tangata whenua as Kaitiaki,
  7. the sensitivity of the receiving environment,
  8. existing ambient air quality and any cumulative effects as a result of the discharge on the receiving environment,
  9. nationally accepted codes of practice for the relevant activity.

 

Policy 3: Air Shed Management
Adopt an air shed management approach that takes into account the relative contributions of all contaminant sources in the area in accordance with the Ministry for the Environment’s Ambient Air Quality Guidelines (May 2002). Priority for development of air quality management plans is to be given to areas where air quality is degraded as defined in Table 6-2 or where such a plan is necessary to prevent air quality becoming further degraded.

 

Table 6-2 Regional Ambient Air Quality Categories and Designated Response

Category Measured Value Response
Degraded Exceeds the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guideline value in Chapter 6.3. Enhance
Between 66% and 100% of the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guideline value in Chapter 6.3. Maintain or Enhance
Acceptable Between 33% and 66% of the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guideline value in Chapter 6.3. Maintain
High Between 10% and 33% of the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guideline value in Chapter 6.3. Maintain / Protect
Less than 10% of the Regional Ambient Air Quality Guideline value in Chapter 6.3. Protect

 

Policy 4: Best Practicable Option*
While having regard to the provisions in Policies 1, 2 and 3, and the likely effects of activities on ambient air quality, Waikato Regional Council will promote the best practicable option to prevent or minimise the discharge of contaminants to air where:

  1. numerical guidelines or standards establishing a level of protection for a receiving environment are not available or cannot easily be established,
  2. the maintenance or enhancement of the existing air quality is desirable or there is uncertainty over existing air quality,
  3. the known adverse effects and costs associated with adopting the best practicable option for an operation are small and the costs of investigating the effect on air quality is large in comparison to the potential effects.

Policy 5: Positive Benefits of Resource Use
Recognise the positive benefits to people and communities arising from activities that affect air quality by enabling a range of activities to use the air (including existing activities) whilst ensuring that:

  1. high quality air resources are protected,
  2. degraded air quality is enhanced,
  3. adverse effects on air quality are avoided, remedied or mitigated.

 

Explanation and Principal Reason for Adopting the Policies
Objectives 1, 2 and 3 of this Chapter are addressed collectively by the above policies. Policy 1 provides the minimum requirements for permitted and controlled activities. Inherent in these is the internalisation of the effects of discharges to air so that neighbouring properties are not adversely affected by the activity. Activities have been classed as permitted and controlled on the basis of the likelihood that they can achieve the outcomes in Policy 1. Where the policy is unlikely to be readily complied with, activities have been made discretionary and Policies 2, 3 and 4 provide the basis for decision-making.

The effects-based approach required under the RMA and provided for by Policy 2, necessitates a move towards a philosophy of Air Quality Management (AQM). Policy 3 contemplates the adoption of an air shed management approach, as described in the Ambient Air Quality Guidelines (MfE and MoH, 2002), in order to achieve Objectives 1 and 3. Managing significant sub-regional cumulative effects from air discharges requires consideration of the contributions to air quality effects from both identifiable major point sources, and from multiple small or non-point source discharges that would not of themselves warrant individual attention. Air quality management plans developed under this approach will address all discharges, regardless of their individual size or significance, and aim to achieve air quality improvements on a “whole of air shed” basis. This contrasts with the traditional regulatory approach, which aims to manage the more immediate off site effects of identified discharges from individual sites.

Because of the variability of the state of the air resource and the varied levels of knowledge abut it, a range of approaches to air management are needed within the Region. In the short term Waikato Regional Council will need to use existing technical knowledge gained from the application of previous legislation alongside the ambient air quality management approach. In the medium- to long-term Waikato Regional Council may need to establish different management regimes for different parts of the Region based on divisions for high, acceptable or degraded air quality characteristics1. The significant characteristics of air quality for different parts of the Region are identified in Table 6-1.

Policy 4 needs to be read in conjunction with the environmental thresholds provided in Policy 1 and the assessment criteria provided in Policy 2. Collectively, these three policies allow for a mix of air quality management and best practicable option (BPO) approaches to air management. The best practicable option should also be applied in a manner that has regard to the likely effects on ambient air quality.

Policy 4 is specific about when the best practicable option is more likely to be applicable. Parts a) to c) encompass the types of situations where BPO will be considered as an alternative to an air quality management approach but in other situations it may be used in conjunction with an air quality management approach under Policy 3. The best practicable option provides flexibility and allows progressive upgrading of emissions at source, adopting specified treatment and disposal technology or simply adopting good maintenance and operating procedures.

Best practicable option is a useful management tool, particularly in the short term, given the time and research required for developing regionally specific and scientifically credible standards for the protection of ecosystems, amenity and cultural values as well as human health. The BPO approach may be replaced by a more effects-based approach as research and information on ambient air quality and effects is developed. The effects-based approach could apply to the situations listed in parts a) to c) but for part d) the BPO may be the logical option particularly where past practice and experience has demonstrated that a discharge does not cause adverse effects if managed in a certain manner. The BPO approach is more likely to be relevant for small- rather than large-scale operations, for example, where the costs of investigating the effect on the environment is out of proportion to the cost of the development and proven management systems or technology.

Case law has indicated that where a use is established, people may have to accept a level of effect from the discharge provided the discharger is doing everything they reasonably can do to minimise the effect (i.e. using BPO). This suggests that Policy 1 may not always be able to be met for existing uses, but the policy thresholds should be met for new uses.

Policy 5 recognises that activities that affect air quality can have benefits for the community’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing. The Policy is necessary to achieve Objective 3 in Chapter 1.2. By recognising existing activities the Policy supports consideration of reverse sensitivity where adverse effects of activities cannot be fully internalised.

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