Good air quality is essential for human health and enjoyment of the environment. Maintaining and improving air quality is the joint responsibilty of Government, industry and the wider community.
The State government, in consultation with local government and the community, has created environmental legislation for managing air quality.
Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994
The main piece of environmental legislation in Tasmania is the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994, usually referred to as 'EMPCA'.
EMPCA also includes powers to create environment protection policies, as well as regulations for dealing with specific air quality issues such as 'domestic' smoke management.
Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004
The Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004 provides a strategic, high-level framework for the management and regulation of both point and diffuse sources of emissions to air for pollutants with the potential to cause environmental harm.
Smoke Regulations 2019
The Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulations 2019 took effect on 26 June 2019. The Smoke Regulations replaced the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Distributed Atmospheric Emissions) Regulations 2018, which expired at the end of January 2019.
The Smoke Regulations cover:
- the Tasmanian sale, manufacture and importation of wood heaters
- smoke emissions from outdoor and indoor fireplaces, wood heaters and cooking appliances
- burning of prohibited waste, and
- backyard burning in residential areas.
Management of industrial point sources of air pollution
State and local government control the air emissions of industrial activities through permits and environment protection notices. Currently, emissions from industries, otherwise known as point source emissions, are regulated under the general provisions of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 and the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. The provisions of the Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004 also apply.
Point source pollution is pollution which is emitted at a discrete, identifiable location, usually via a smoke stack and which can be readily measured. Where a point source of pollution might cause environmental nuisance or material or serious environmental harm, limits are to be set on the permissible concentrations and/or loads of pollutants present in discharges to the atmosphere.
Management of residential and other diffuse sources of air pollution
Sources of pollution, such as wood heating, back yard burning, lawn mowers and other small combustion engines are usually individually small but numerous and can be significant sources of air pollution. They may also cause localised air pollution problems. See: Reducing Local Air Pollution.
In addition, Section 53 of EMPCA describes the offence of 'causing environmental nuisance', which can include nuisance from smoke, dust, fumes or odour. This is a general provision which may be used by local goverment when responding to air quality complaints about wood heaters and backyard burning.
Management of planned burning
Large scale open burning for forest regeneration, waste removal, ecological management and fuel reduction has an impact on air quality. See: Management of Smoke from Planned Burning.
Management of transport as a source of air pollution
Motor traffic is a major source of air pollution in Australian cities. Little monitoring of typical motor exhaust emission pollutants has been conducted in Tasmania. Visible exhaust emissions of longer duration than 10 seconds are prohibited under the Vehicle and Traffic (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 2001. These Regulations are administered by the Department of State Growth.
Motor vehicle emissions are controlled through Australian Design Rules (ADRs) which require all new vehicles sold in Australia to meet specified emission limits (see National Programs).
See also: Reduce Car Use.
Air NEPM Monitoring Plan for Tasmania
The Air NEPM Monitoring Plan for Tasmania specifies how Tasmania plans to monitor, assess and report air quality for the purposes of the National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality.
Tasmanian Air Monitoring Plan (5Mb)
Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy (TAQS)
The Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004 required the development of the TAQS. The aim of the Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy 2006 (Strategy) was to establish a blueprint for measuring, improving and managing air quality in Tasmania for the five year period from 2006 and 2011. The primary driver for the Strategy has been the recognised need to achieve the National Environment Protection Measure Goals for air quality, especially those relating to fine particle pollution.
The Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy June 2006 achieved considerable success in guiding the management of air quality in Tasmania over the five year period from 2006 until 2011. However, as a result of a number of influences on future air quality policy at both the State and Federal level a new TAQS was not developed after 2011. Instead the existing strategy was retained to serve as a vehicle to drive further air quality management programs, to facilitate the implementation of the strategy objectives that remained outstanding and to support the continued operation of the established ongoing programs. See: Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy.