Northland's air is generally of a high quality however urban areas are susceptible to air pollution, particularly during the winter months. In order to protect air quality, the Northland Regional Council (NRC) developed the Regional Air Quality Plan for Northland (RAQP). The RAQP contains policies relating to air quality in Northland and provides rules for undertaking activities that may affect air quality in Northland.
NRC has been monitoring air quality since 1996. The main objective of this monitoring is to find out where air pollution might pose a risk to human health. Particulate matter (PM10) is sampled at three locations in Northland – Water Street and Robert Street in Whangarei and Donald Road in Kaitaia. During 2007-08, PM10 levels did not exceed the national standard at any of the three sites monitored. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is monitored at one site – Taurikura Bay, opposite the oil refinery. Peak concentrations recorded in 2007-08 did not exceed the national standard.