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1. Introduction

On 28 May 2007 Transpower New Zealand Limited (“Transpower”) lodged Notices of Requirement (“NOR”) with seven Councils in Auckland and the Waikato to enable them to designate land for the construction, operation and maintenance of a new electricity transmission link (including substations and underground cables) between Whakamaru and South Auckland.

Resource consent applications in relation to earthworks and related activities such as track construction and stream crossings were subsequently lodged with the Auckland Regional Council (“ARC”) and Waikato Regional Council (“Environment Waikato”) in June and July 2007.

At times, and for ease of understanding, we refer to the NOR and resource consent applications collectively as “the applications”.

In summary, Transpower proposes to undertake the following works as part of the project:

  • Extensions to the existing 220kV substation at Otahuhu.
  • New 220kV underground electricity cables from Brownhill Road to the Otahuhu Substation.
  • Replacement of the existing 110kV substation at Pakuranga with a 220kV substation.
  • New 220kV underground electricity cables from Brownhill Road to the Pakuranga Substation.
  • A new 400/220kV substation at Brownhill Road.
  • A 400kV capable overhead transmission line network some 185 km long from Whakamaru Substation to Brownhill Road in Manukau City.
  • Extensions to the existing substation and a new substation at Whakamaru in Taupo District.

The proposal would only move to a 400kV operation when demand requires (expected to be around 2033) and this would require later approval for and commissioning of 220 kV/400 kV transformers and associated switchyards near the existing Whakamaru substation and in the South Auckland area.

On 8 August 2007 (acting pursuant to s 141A of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”), Hon Pete Hodgson acting for the Minister for the Environment ‘called-in’ the notices of requirement and applications for resource consent lodged by Transpower because he considered it to be a matter of national significance.

In accordance with sections 140 to 150 of the RMA, the Minister publicly notified Transpower’s application, sought public submissions and referred the proposal to a Board of Inquiry.

1.1 Scope of the Report

This report is prepared under the provisions of s 42A of the RMA. Section 42A(1) provides for a Council officer or consultant to prepare a report of relevant information provided by the applicant or any person who made a submission on any matter described in s 39(1), and allows the decision-maker (Council, or Board of Inquiry as in this case) to consider the report at the hearing.

Section 39(1) states:

39 Hearings to be public and without unnecessary formality

(1) Where a local authority, a consent authority, or a person given authority to conduct hearings under any of sections 33, 34, [34A,] 117, 146, [202, or [[357C]] ], holds a hearing in relation to—

(b) An application for a resource consent; or

(f) A requirement for a designation or heritage order; …

Section 41(4) of the RMA allows the decision-maker to request and receive from any person who makes a report under s 42A "any information or advice that is relevant and reasonably necessary to determine the application".

In accordance with s 42A, and matters described in s 39(1) this report covers the following:

  • An overview of the NOR documentation and resource consent applications lodged by Transpower.
  • A review of the statutory framework in respect to the ‘calling in’ of Transpower’s proposal, and the directions of the RMA for considering the NOR and the resource consent applications.
  • A review of the NOR documentation in accordance with s 171 of the RMA and the adequacy of information provided.
  • A review of the resource consent applications in accordance with s 104 of the RMA and the adequacy of information provided.
  • Identification of the key issues in the NOR, resource consent applications and public submissions.
  • An analysis of the adequacy of information provided by Transpower in the NOR and resource consent applications.

A generic brief was given for this assessment that did not request a specific level of detail, nor specify the level of assessment required. Accordingly, this report provides a broad, high level review of information adequacy and the planning information available. A comprehensive analysis/technical audit of all the material contained in the 17 volumes of information provided by Transpower was beyond the scope of this assessment. Rather, a broad judgment of the overall assessment undertaken by the applicant has been made (as informed by the submissions received), however a more detailed assessment of two key issues (landscape and electromagnetic field issues) has been undertaken.

We acknowledge that experts within specific fields may differ in opinion as to the overview comments we have made in relation to issues and information adequacy. In this regard, we would expect expert opinion on more detailed matters to be required (and presented) during the hearing.