Filthy air is still overhead in Tokoroa
The castle on the hill has overlooked Tirau for almost 17 years and now it could be yours.
Tokoroa’s air quality remains one of the worst in the country with the town continuing to breach national air quality standards.
The South Waikato town has been breaching standards 15 to 20 times every winter since recording began in 2005 and at times has exceeded the daily limit by 55 per cent.
Tokoroa has until September 2020 to get breaches down to the standards’ leeway of one every 12 months but in its current state experts warn it’s on track to fail.
And Mayor Jenny Shattock isn’t opposed to bringing in a bylaw to help combat the problem.
‘‘Twice before we have tried to use the carrot approach rather than the stick approach. We have not had a bylaw in place as we wanted to put the focus and emphasis on education and partnerships and we have gone out and worked hard with programmes that address issues of clean air in our district,’’ she said.
‘‘We have got some big thinking to do because when we did put it out for consultation in the early days there was quite a backlash from our community.’’
The main contributors to the poor air quality were old woodburners, people burning wet, painted or treated wood, dirty chimneys, and inadequate flue heights.
In 2005 the Government introduced National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) to combat global emissions, requiring Ministry for the Environment defined areas, known as airsheds, to emit no more than 50 micrograms of PM10 airborne particles per cubic metre of air.
PM10 particles, which are onefifth of the diameter of human hair, can lodge in people’s lungs and cause serious health problems leading to premature death.
Although the South Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council, Waikato District Health Board, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) have made inroads through schemes and initiativesthe NESAQ 2020 interim target for Tokoroa was still well off track.