The New Zealand National Environmental Standards for ambient air quality: analysis and modelling case study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Historically, the New Zealand rationale behind air quality management has been to adopt an effects-based approach based on environmental impacts. Generally, this method has been efficient in that it permitted emitters to decide how to minimise and mitigate impacts. However, to address the inconsistencies in air quality management across New Zealand born of this approach, and to permit measures designed to improve the working of the Resource Management Act (RMA), National Environmental Standards for Ambient Air Quality have been developed and implemented to establish consistent regulation and protection for all New Zealanders. The standards were gazetted in September 2004, for full implementation by 2013. This thesis explores the implementation of the National Environmental Standards for Ambient Air Quality, examining the philosophy behind the standards and associated strategies for dealing with air pollution management in New Zealand, and the international context for the development of appropriate tools to address air quality concerns. The research also provides an independent dispersion modelling assessment of the application of the Ministry for the Environment's initiative regarding sulphur dioxide in the Marsden Point airshed, Northland, utilising The Air Pollution Model (TAPM) for a period when heightened concentration values had been recorded. The key outcomes of the thesis are: (i) 99.9th percentile and maximum values for the simulated two-day modelling case study are within those stipulated by the air quality standards for sulphur dioxide; (ii) modelled concentrations associated with shipping within the airshed of interest contribute significantly to total modelled values; (iii) the chief obstruction to increased use of the prognostic modelling approach is that of the unsatisfactory availability and integrity of emission inventories; (iv) performing long-term high-resolution simulations with multiple point sources is prohibitive due to computational demands; (v) good quality monitoring will always be required; (vi) the standards have broad and far-reaching implications for resource managers, resource users and possibly the economy of individual regions and the country as a whole; (vii) the successful implementation of the National Environmental Standards for Ambient Air Quality in New Zealand will integrate a thorough understanding of modelling, measurements, meteorology and emissions.