A National Air Quality Compliance Strategy 2011 (the Strategy) was published last month with the purpose of supporting and ensuring compliance with the air quality targets in the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations 2004 (Regulations). The Strategy targets regional councils who are responsible for managing air quality under the RMA.

Many areas in New Zealand experience poor air quality, largely as a result of solid fuel (wood and coal) used for home heating and exhaust emissions from motor vehicles.

The Strategy does not seek to address contaminants covered by other regulations such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, dioxins and other toxics or landfill gas.

The Strategy outlines practices that regional councils can implement to meet the minimum requirements for ambient air quality standards, including the PM 10 (particulate matter less than 10 micrometres) 24-hour standard, set by the Regulations. Councils will report to their communities and stakeholders, who in turn will be required to comply with any rules, conditions and bylaws later set by the relevant councils to achieve the standard.