Air quality annual monitoring

smoke over suburb

What drives air pollution in Nelson?

Nelson is surrounded by hills and has a settled climate with little wind to blow smoke away. Under clear skies during winter the air near the ground can be colder than the air above and smoke from domestic chimneys, factories and vehicle exhausts gets trapped. Winter is also the time when smoke emissions from home heating sources are at their maximum. The combined effect is that in Nelson during winter smoke concentrations can be much higher than normal for a city of this size.

Key results of the Annual Monitoring Summary

In 2015, all Nelson airsheds complied with the National Environmental Standards. Interpretation of these results should take into account that the warm, windy weather experienced over recent seasons may have resulted in lower emissions and better dispersion of smoke particles.

More wind tends to blow smoke away and stops it from concentrating.  Warmer than average temperatures mean less fires are lit, and allows chimney smoke to rise and mix more easily, which also reduces concentrations. Therefore meteorological conditions experienced during 2015 are likely to have resulted in lower smoke concentrations than normal.

What are we doing about it?

Nelson Air Quality Plan

Nelson City Council has an operative Air Quality Plan, which places controls on activities affecting air pollution. Plan rules prohibit outdoor burning in urban areas, the use of open fires and the installation of enclosed burners in houses that do not already have an enclosed burner. Council decided to start a review of the Air Plan in 2015 given the significant improvements to Nelson’s air quality and concern that people are living in cold homes. A key focus for the review is to consider whether there are opportunities  to provide a wider range of home heating options.

Other measures

good wood logoNelson City Council established the Good Wood scheme to encourage people to buy and burn dry, untreated timber. Council also runs a community education programme to improve how people operate their woodburners. Council’s Eco-Design Advisor provides a fee service giving advice about keeping our houses warm. The Council is working with industry to reduce its contribution to air pollution through the resource consents process.