Air quality is important to everyone.

Pollutants released into the air can cause unpleasant smells and poor visibility. They can also affect our health in negative ways. Air pollution can come from many sources, both natural and human-made. Research has shown us that once inhaled, air pollutants can adversely affect our health, particularly if you are elderly, very young or have an existing respiratory condition. 

In Otago we enjoy very good quality air for most of the year. Chimney emissions peak in winter, when we burn wood or coal for home heating. As a result, our ambient (or outdoor) air quality is often degraded, particularly in areas like Alexandra, Arrowtown, Clyde, Cromwell, Milton and Mosgiel. 

Our communities have worked to reduce emissions in the towns with air quality problems, but emissions have not reduced enough to meet the national standards or the World Health Organisation standards for human health.  

In 2018 we have developed an air quality strategy to ensure that ORC has a coherent approach to achieve identified outcomes in our work programmes. 

Read the air quality strategy

What is the difference between the air quality strategy and the air plan?

The air quality strategy sets out the overall approach ORC will take to achieve air quality for good human health. It provides a reference point and key directions to inform ORC's work programme for air quality. 

The Regional Plan: Air (air plan) sets out rules for activities that might affect air quality, such as discharges from domestic properties/industry, dust, odour, chemical sprays, outdoor burning and transport emissions. 

Revision of the Air Quality Strategy

In 2024 we will begin the revision of our air quality strategy to bring it up to date with current best practice and to ensure that we are taking the most effective approach to address air quality issues across our region. Once complete, the revised strategy will set our overall approach to improving air quality, with a focus on urban centres where air quality is sometimes poor in winter months. 

Air in Otago

To learn more about how air is managed in Otago, and what you can do to contribute to clean air, you can view our Air Care pages.

Page last updated 5 July 2024.