Building consents for homes in a new Pukehangi subdivision have prompted moves to extend the Rotorua Airshed.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Monitoring and Operations Committee was asked in a meeting yesterday to consider the idea as a way to help protect and retain the city's existing air quality.
Regional council senior regulatory project officer Marion Henton told the committee Rotorua Lakes Council was receiving solid fuel burner building consent applications for new homes being built in the subdivision.
The location of the development sits just outside the city's airshed but smoke emitted from homes within the site was expected to flow into the airshed and impact its air quality, prompting concerns from the Rotorua Air Quality Working Party, Henton said.
The Pukehangi development was one of three subdivisions identified on a map presented at the meeting as sitting on the fringe of the city's airshed, presenting a potential risk to the airshed meeting National Environmental Standards of Air Quality.
Henton said the working party recommended extending the airshed boundary because it would protect air quality improvements made to date and mitigate against new sources of particulate matter from smoke flowing into the airshed.
"There are concerns that smoke from outside the airshed that smoke would drift to the airshed and increase the concentration level of particulate matter."
The Rotorua Airshed was gazetted in 2005 and it had breached the national standards every year until 2020. The main source of particulate matter is smoke from winter fires
Henton told committee members that their efforts to extend the boundary was the only legal option of preventing the creation and use of wood burners in these areas.
The committee was asked to consider an initiative to extend the existing airshed boundary to include any subdivision that could contribute additional particulate matter into the airshed.
It was also asked to recommend extending the boundary to the regional council's Strategy and Policy Committee.
Committee chairman Kevin Winters asked Henton whether the boundary would need to be updated and changed every time there was a new subdivision.
Henton replied: "We do have to define a boundary but what the Strategy and Policy Committee will do ... is work with the Rotorua Lakes Council to find where the scheduled developments are, so it is future-proofed."
The request to recommend the extension to the Strategy and Policy Committee was unanimously carried and is expected to be discussed again in the new year.