Hastings' air quality not up to standard

By Lawrence Gullery

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Evening smoke and smog hanging over Hastings has put the city in breach of the National Environment Standards (NES) for air quality three times already this winter season.

The amount of PM10, or fine particle matter, released into the air primarily from home wood burners, exceeded the NES during the final two days of May and the first day of June.

The Government put Hawke's Bay Regional Council in charge of making sure Hastings and Napier did not breach the air quality standards.

Hastings' highest number of breaches was 28 in one year and Napier averaged about three to five.

Regional council set a target for Hastings to not exceed the standards more than three times per year from September 2016 and then no more than once a year from September 2020. Napier would be allowed to exceed the standard only once a year, from September 2016. The Art Deco city has had no breaches so far this year.

Regional council senior scientist climate and air Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said the air quality breaches were a disappointing start to winter.

"Our main focus has been to help people convert to cleaner forms of heat, that's the push we've had in terms of offering subsidies for people to get clean heating systems.

"There is currently a ban on open fires in the air zones of Napier and Hastings and we will soon see the start of phasing out of some of the older type wood burners."

A push on removing or replacing older wood burners would be phased in from January 2014, focusing on burners installed prior to December 31, 1995.

Dr Kozyniak said the weather had an impact on the air quality over Napier and Hastings which often determined whether the standards were exceeded.

"Napier is closer to the coast and gets a bit more wind which can disperse it (smoke particles).

"Napier can also be a degree warmer in temperature than Hastings."

With little evening wind over Hastings, the smoke tends to linger longer over the city.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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