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3. Putting it into Practice

Figure 2 : Steps for preparing an AEE

This flow chart identifies the steps for preparing an AEE:

  • Step 1 Identify the activity or activities for which resource consent is sought.
  • Step 2 Conduct a site inspection.
  • Step 3 talk to the regional and/or district council.
  • Step 4 Identify the effects.
  • Step 5 Rank and address the effects.
  • Specialist advice may be sought if required to inform this assessment.
  • Step 6 Pre-application meetings may be required for complex applications to inform the assessment and the potential need for specialist advice.
  • There is potential for consultation at any stage of the process through steps 1 to 6.
  • Step 7 Re-evaluate the proposal. In re-evaluating the proposal new activities may be identified that require resource consent and the process should return to stage 1.
  • Step 8 Finalise the AEE (including obtaining affected parties’ approval).
  • Lodge the application.

How do I go about preparing an AEE?

The following eight steps will help you prepare an appropriate AEE. How long it takes will depend on the size and scale of your project and the nature of the effects.

Once the process is complete you should be able to draft an AEE that:

  • contains an accurate description of the activity
  • contains an accurate description of the site and locality
  • contains an effects checklist that ranks the effects and discusses how any adverse effects may be avoided, remedied or mitigated
  • outlines any consultation you have undertaken and its results
  • clearly identifies any restrictions on your proposed activity where these have been agreed to resolve affected parties' concerns
  • (where significant effects are likely to occur) identifies alternatives you will have considered and why they were rejected
  • identifies any proposals for monitoring potential and actual effects.

Step 1: Identify the activity or activities for which you are seeking resource consent

Fully understanding your activity is central to preparing an AEE. Your application needs to include an explicit description of the activity for which you are seeking consent. Remember, if it is not identified in the application it may not be included in your consent. The AEE must be clearly and logically linked to this description and should not address issues outside it. Think about your proposal and how it will change the site you intend to use/develop or protect. For example:

  • Will earthworks be required? On what scale? Will access need to be provided or improved?
  • Will the site drain properly? Are stormwater and drainage required? Where will these go?
  • Will any existing buildings or vegetation need to be removed? How many and of what species?
  • Will you be discharging water or waste into the sea, river or lake or onto land, or taking water from a water body? How much discharge will you create?
  • How much water will you need? Will it affect the cultural values of iwi?
  • Will your proposal make noise, generate additional traffic or produce any odour or dust?
  • Will the use vary over time? Will the work be undertaken in stages and, if so, how will these differ?

Step 2: Conduct a site inspection

The purpose of the site inspection is to check the site is appropriate for what you are proposing. Even if you already own and perhaps live on the site, it will be important to do a thorough site inspection. Council officers are also likely to make a site inspection when assessing your application.

What sorts of things do I need to look for?

This will depend on what you are trying to do. However, you will need to consider some basic things about the site and whether it is suited to your proposal:

Natural features:

What does the site look like?
  • Is it a regular or unusual shape?
  • Is it flat or sloping?
  • What and where is the vegetation?
  • Are there any significant trees or habitats?
  • Is there any evidence of archaeological sites, historic buildings or contaminated land?
Does the site contain any unusual features that may affect development potential?
  • Are there any watercourses, gullies, wetlands, coastal areas?
  • Are there any areas of slippage?
  • Are there areas where water collects?

Adjacent uses:

What is on the neighbouring properties and the surrounding area?
  • Are the buildings close? What are they used for?
  • Has a particular type of design been adopted in the area?
  • Is the activity consistent with other uses in the area (eg, business/residential type activities)?
  • Are the surrounding activities likely to generate, or be sensitive to your generation of, noise, odour, heavy traffic, etc? Will this vary at different times of the day or during the week?
  • Are there other users of the same resource (eg, air/water) in the vicinity?

Physical features:

How will water and sewerage be provided for on the site?
  • Is there access to council services?
  • If not, is the soil of a suitable type and the size of the site sufficient to accommodate on-site waste disposal facilities?
  • How will vehicles access the site?
What buildings are already on the site?
  • What are they used for?
  • Are their layout and orientation important for sun access or to maximise views?
  • Is the site fenced or paved

What do I do after I've looked at the site?

After the site inspection, decide whether you need to tailor your proposal to fit the physical constraints provided by the site itself or by adjacent buildings or development. List the effects identified from your site visit that may need to be covered in your AEE.

Step 3: Talk to the regional and/or district council

You may have already telephoned the council and determined that your proposal is likely to require a resource consent. You may have been given some general information on what needs to be included with your application and the process that it may take. However, actually visiting the council and talking with council staff is an important step that should be taken before you proceed further, even if it means travelling some distance.

Council staff will not prepare your proposal for you. However, they will give you the information you require to lodge an application for resource consent. They can also help you identify the sort of consent(s) you require, whether there are any particular limitations on your site that are known to them and what sort of information you will need to provide.

Some words of warning: information given at the pre-application stage is not binding on the decision-makers. This is because your proposal may change through the AEE process and the council will not have the full information until you have lodged your application. Staff at the council will not be able to tell you whether your application will be approved or what conditions may be attached.

What you need to know or do before meeting with the council:

  • Know what it is you would like to do.
  • Make general enquires about whether you are likely to need a resource consent and if there are any particular issues to consider.
  • Carry out a site visit and know what the surrounding environment is like.
  • Know whether you need to make an appointment.
  • Know whether and how much the council will charge you for any information.
  • If required, order site files in advance so they are available when you go to the council.
  • Know who the people are you need to talk to at the council - eg, planner, engineer, subdivision officer or an iwi liaison officer - and whether you can see them all at the same meeting.

When you go to the council:

  • Tell council staff exactly what you want to do.
  • Confirm what consents will be required. For controlled activities, find out what the plan retains control over. For restricted discretionary activities, find out what matters the plan limits the council's discretion to.
  • Ask staff to explain the timeframes for processing resource consent applications. This will give you an idea of how long your application may take to be processed.
  • Ask what issues are identified by the plan. Get a copy of the relevant provisions or confirm the copy you have is the most up-to-date and correct.
  • Ask what information is required by the plan and get a copy of these requirements. Many councils also have specific checklists. Ask for a copy of these.
  • Most councils will have their own application forms. Get an application form.

Other questions you should ask when you go to the council:

  • Will consents be required from both district and regional councils? The council can refuse to process your application unless all consents are applied for.
  • How have other similar applications been processed recently and have they raised any particular issues?
  • Is consultation with iwi/hapū groups considered to be appropriate? If so, the council will provide the appropriate contacts. (It is good practice, but not mandatory, to consult tāngata whenua about the possible effects of your proposal.)
  • Does the council know about any constraints or limitations on the site? For example, is it a known archaeological or historical site? Is it subject to flooding, stability problems or contamination? If you have had a LIM (Land Information Memorandum) report for the site, take this with you as it is helpful in identifying known constraints and limitations.
  • Is the council aware of any special vegetation, habitats or scenic sensitivity on, or near, the site?
  • Can you connect into the council's sewerage and stormwater services?
  • Ask whether the council considers that particular people are likely to be affected or whether anybody's approval will be required. You need to make your own decision about whether to talk to your neighbours or any interest groups about your proposal; nevertheless, the council may be able to give some guidance.
  • Ask whether the council staff consider it necessary to hold a pre-application meeting (for complex applications only - see step 6). It is a good idea to record your discussions, including those with the council and people you have consulted.
  • Ask if specialist assessments (eg, traffic engineer, landscape architects) may be required.

Step 4: Identify the effects of your activity

What if I don't think there are any effects?

The definitions of effects and environment are very broad (see Section 2 and Appendix 1). If a resource consent is required, it is because the council has anticipated that the activity is likely to have an adverse effect or effects on the environment.

So how do I go about identifying the likely effects of my proposed activity?

As you go through the steps of preparing your AEE, the issues may change or new issues may be brought to light. For example, consulting with other parties and obtaining specialist advice may often result in new or changed issues. These issues may also change your proposal.

Develop your own understanding of the proposal:

The site and locality are important in determining the effects of your activity. At this stage, you may need to take another careful look at the site and the surrounding properties to ensure you have identified all your activity's potential effects. Here are some questions to help you.

  • If you wish to discharge water, contaminants or waste, will this result in changes to the land, air, groundwater or surface water into which it is placed? Will sludge or algal growth form? Will any neighbouring sites or resources be affected?
  • If you wish to take water, will that reduce the overall flow or affect living organisms or plants in the sea, river or lake? If so, how?
  • If you wish to set up a home occupation, will that generate noise, odour or additional traffic? If so, how much and when?

Consider all the effects of your proposal. For example, if it will generate additional traffic, will there also be a need for more car parking? If you need to clear vegetation, will this mean that slips will happen and affect surrounding properties?

Use the provisions of the relevant plan:

You do not need to quote word for word from the plan. You should use it to identify matters you discuss in your AEE.

If your application is for a controlled or restricted discretionary activity, use the plan to identify the issues you need to address. For controlled activities, these will be the matters over which the council retains control. For restricted discretionary activities, these will be the matters to which the plan limits the council's discretion.

If your application is for a discretionary activity but the proposal would be permitted with the exception of a minor infringement, you may be able to use the permitted baseline as part of your assessment. In this instance, you would only consider those effects relating to the particular infringement and argue that the remainder of the proposal is within the permitted baseline as it complies with all other rules in the district or regional plan.

Example of using plan provisions to identify issues for a restricted discretionary activity

[Adapted from plan provisions in the proposed District Plan for Manukau District Council. Note these provisions may not always be located next to each other in a plan.]
Activity description:

Addition of second storey to residential dwelling in a low-rise residential area.

Rule infringed:

Dwelling is a permitted activity if certain rules are met. The design does not comply with the height restrictions in relation to the boundary rule and therefore requires a resource consent.

Type of consent required:

Land-use consent for a restricted discretionary activity.

Plan provisions:

Matters over which discretion is to be exercised:

Conditions will be imposed on buildings and other structures in residential areas to ensure they are designed and/or located in such a way as to:

  1. respect any existing aesthetic qualities in the built form such as proportion, scale, style, unity and coherence
  2. contribute to the visual amenity of the streetscape
  3. enable reasonable on-site amenity, including privacy and access to daylight and sunlight
  4. avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the acoustic environment
  5. protect any identified heritage qualities in the residential neighbourhood.
Explanation/reasons:

All development on a site has some effect on the adjoining site in terms of privacy, access to daylight and sunlight, and the possibility of dominance. The extent of the effect will depend on the location of buildings to boundary in relation to their bulk and the orientation of the boundary being assessed. Using yards, height and building height in relation to boundary rules will help to mitigate the effects of buildings and structures on adjoining sensitive areas such as residential. The recession plane control also protects the amenity of the street, in particular ensuring that buildings do not dominate the street.

Possible effects:

Possible effects that can be identified from the above plan provisions include:

  • reduced sunlight/daylight admission
  • not in keeping with the design of the house
  • out of character with the street
  • reduces someone's privacy
  • blocks someone's view
  • compromises a known vegetative or built feature.
Who will be affected?:
  • Primarily immediate neighbour.
  • Wider community, depending on how the infringement is related to the road, the contour of the land and the overall building design.

If the application is for a discretionary or non-complying activity:[Adapted from the provisions of the proposed Opihi River Regional plan (Canterbury Regional Council, 14 July 1995). Note that these provisions may not always be located next to each other in a plan.] List what the objectives and policies identify as potential issues.

Example of using the plan provisions to identify the issues for a discretionary activity

Activity description:

Water extraction

Rule infringed:

None: Activity is specifically provided for as a discretionary activity.

Type of consent required:

Water permit for a discretionary activity.

Plan provisions:

Surface waters in the Opihi River and catchment experience severe summer low flows. On frequent occasions the demand for water exceeds supply. At times there is no surface flow in parts of the Opihi River system under natural conditions. Clearance of riparian wetlands and changes in land uses have reduced the catchment's natural water storage capacity, although the extent of this reduction has not been quantified. Surface water abstraction needs to be managed to protect the aquatic habitat, fisheries and other in-stream values, while providing for adequate abstraction flows. The main ground water allocation issue relates to the interconnectedness of parts of the groundwater and surface water systems. The inter-relationship between surface and groundwaters in parts of the Waihi River Valley is different from other hydraulically connected areas because of the influence of recharge from surface waters outside of the Waihi Catchment.

Objective:

Enable present and future generations to gain benefit from the Opihi River, its tributaries and from hydraulically connected groundwater; while:

  1. safeguarding their existing value for providing sources of drinking water
  2. protecting the life supporting capacity of aquatic ecosystems, significant habitats of indigenous fauna, and areas of significant indigenous vegetation
  3. safeguarding their existing value for providing mahika kai for takata whenua
  4. protecting wāhi tapu and other wāhi taonga of value to takata whenua.
Policies:
  1. In-stream flow and abstraction regimes are to be set and maintained for the Opihi River, its tributaries and hydraulically connected groundwater to enable abstraction and use while ensuring that matters (a) to (d) in the objectives above are met.
  2. Promote efficiency in the use of water.
  3. Allocation limits will be set to protect the availability of water for existing permit holders, and still allow water to be abstracted at times of high water flow.
Possible effects:

Possible effects that can be identified from the above plan provisions include:

  • impact on other users
  • reduced water for abstraction
  • potential to compromise groundwater storage (drinking water)
  • impact on natural character of the river and wetlands
  • impact on plants and animals within the water body
  • impact on use of water body for traditional Māori purposes
  • disruption to flows especially in times of drought
  • broad economic value of water resources.
Who will be affected?
  • Other users of the resource
  • Takata whenua / tangata whenua
  • Wider community.

So what do I do as I identify the potential effects?

As you identify the potential effects, write them all down one side of a page. This will be a checklist for your application, which will simply indicate to the council the issues you did look at and why you chose to address them as you did. The checklist may also identify your process for determining the exact nature of your proposal.

  • For controlled and restricted discretionary activities, the checklist will only address issues identified in the plan. You do not need to address other issues.
  • For discretionary and non-complying activities, the checklist will be as broad or narrow as necessary to identify all the potential effects of your activity.

What happens if the potential effects of my activity will change over time?

For long term projects, or those whose effects change over time (for example, subdivision), you may need to prepare a different checklist for the different phases (for example, site preparation, construction, operation). Even a simple addition to a house can have different effects over time. For example, in the short-term, there may be potential noise and traffic issues; in the longer term, there may be concerns about how the final addition looks and whether it affects the neighbour's privacy. It may have different traffic generation issues throughout the project (vehicular generation as opposed to heavy vehicles).

What if I can't specifically identify all the effects associated with my activity or the effects are highly technical?

If you don't understand, or are having difficulty identifying, potential effects, you may need to involve specialist advisers to help you. This will enable any necessary changes to be made to your proposal before you have made a significant investment.

You may need to obtain specialist advice on only a few aspects of your proposal. Alternatively, the specialist adviser, by themselves or in combination with others, might complete and lodge the application (including the AEE) for you. The council can also help you identify if specialist advice may be required. The council is also able to commission specialist reports for your application, but this can often result in more costs to you. Your decision on obtaining specialist advice will depend on what you are proposing and what you are comfortable with and able to comment on. You may wish to seek specialist advice if:

  • you do not understand particular effects of your proposal and therefore do not know how to address them. You might require, for example, specialist advice on cultural, engineering, landscaping or archaeological matters
  • your proposal is a significant departure from the requirements of the regional or district plan, so you have little guidance on the effects your activity may generate
  • the resource consent is likely to be complex and requires specialist project management skills
  • there is a dispute about your proposal's potential effects.

If you do need to obtain specialist advice it is important that you:

  • know exactly what you need and where they can help. You will need to obtain a summary report which addresses the effect(s) of your activity in a clear, easily understood and targeted way and which identifies any measures needed to address such effects, especially where the effects require technical or scientific analysis
  • ask around about which agencies are used and compare what is being offered
  • provide the specialist with a copy of the council's rules or requirements relating to your proposal
  • set clear timeframes for getting the material
  • ask for an estimate for the work.

Discuss the proposal with neighbours and any potentially affected parties:

While consultation about resource consents is not mandatory under the Resource Management Act, it is good practice and can reduce costs and delays later in the process. Consultation involves talking with people who may be interested in, or affected by, your proposal. It is an opportunity to tell people what you are going to do and an invitation to contribute to the project design/issue identification and resolution process. Consultation needs to be done early - before the AEE is written and certainly before you have finalised its detail. It can be done at any stage of the process and as often as required.

Why should I consult?

Early and full consultation can:

  • identify and resolve issues
  • reduce affected parties' concerns and opposition to your proposal
  • enable you to obtain written approvals from affected parties. This potentially enables your application to be processed without notification.

What is involved?

Consultation requires you to:

  • provide enough time and information to the consulted party so they can make intelligent and informed decisions
  • provide enough time for the consulted party to participate and for their advice to be considered
  • genuinely consider that advice, including keeping an open mind and having a willingness to change. The detail of your proposal should not be pre-determined.

Are consultation and gaining affected party approval one and the same?

Consultation can be a lot wider than just seeking the written approval of potentially adversely affected parties. However, this is the least you should do. For more information see booklet 2.2 Consultation for Resource Consent Applicants in the Ministry for the Environment's Everyday Guide to the RMA series. This is available online at: www.rma.govt.nz/

Should I be asking people to give their approval?

At the initial stage, you may ask affected parties to indicate if they will give their approval. They may indicate they do not wish to object to your proposal, but may also state they will only give approval if it meets certain conditions. Even if they are willing to give their approval at this stage, the plans and the AEE will not be ready for them to sign.

What if my neighbour wants me to do something to secure their approval?

Sometimes you can incorporate a specific action into your proposal. For example, you might agree with your neighbour to build a fence, plant a tree or in some other way compensate for an effect. If you reach such an agreement, you must sort it out between yourselves and then include this as a restriction on your activity. Councils will not accept conditional approvals so this needs to be sorted out before you lodge your application.

How do I go about consulting?

This will depend on how well you know the parties involved, the number of parties and the range of issues that need to be addressed. While they are certainly considerations, time and money should not drive the consultation process. It may involve an informal discussion with your neighbour about what you want to do, or it may be a meeting with interested/affected iwi groups, public interest groups or industry. Public meetings may be appropriate for complex applications.

What do I do with the results of my consultation?

You should add any additional effects identified in the consultation to your effects checklist. Keep reviewing your proposal with a view to continuing with the application as proposed, modifying, or abandoning it.

Step 5: Rank the effects

Using the checklist of potential effects, you now need to identify those which are relevant to your particular proposal and assess their significance on the environment.

How do I rank the effects?

A simple, scaled rating should be applied to each effect. You could use the scale discussed in Section 2 (page 8). Where you identify that the effect is likely to be more than minor, you should consider whether:

  • the effect can be avoided?
  • the effect can be mitigated?
  • the effect can be remedied?

If you do not add these 'solutions' to your proposal, your application is likely to be publicly notified and/or the council may impose its own conditions on your activity to address the effect. Your application might even be turned down. If you are not entirely satisfied with the conditions the council imposes, you may have to object to them. This will result in additional time delays and costs.

If your proposal is likely to cause significant adverse effects which need to be addressed, you will need to look at alternative ways of going about it. This might raise other, more environmentally effective, ways of doing what you want to do - or it might identify this as the only way. Consider alternatives in the widest possible way. Strictly speaking, you do not need to specifically consider alternatives unless your proposed activity has significant effects. Complex applications should consider alternative locations, including the option of not proceeding. Discharge permit applications must consider alternatives, whether or not adverse effects are significant.

If alternatives do need to be considered, their identification and analysis should not aim to merely dispose of alternatives in favour of a decision that has already been made.

At this stage you will again need to review your proposal and decide whether to:

  • continue with the application for the activity you originally wanted to carry out, or
  • modify your proposal before you start to prepare the application, or
  • abandon the proposal.

You might need to obtain advice in this area, especially if there are no alternatives available.

Will I need to prove that the modifications to my proposal are going to be effective?

Sometimes you will need to monitor an effect to make sure it remains acceptable over time. This particularly applies when:

  • there is a potential for cumulative effects
  • there is uncertainty as to whether a potential effect is going to happen
  • it is important that an identified potential effect is actually happening as predicted.

For example, with a water take you may need to monitor the actual effect on downstream plants, aquatic life or other users. If the actual effect is likely to be worse than the predicted effect the council may, in addition to monitoring, retain the ability to review and modify the conditions of your consent relating to the volume of water taken. If the council requires ongoing monitoring, you may wish to devise a basic strategy (including suggesting conditions and contingency plans). There are a number of ways of monitoring; if you prefer one over another, you should point this out to the council and include an explanation of why you prefer this option. Even when the effects of an activity are quite clear, most councils will impose a standard monitoring condition on your consent to ensure the work has been completed as stated.

Table 1: Example of a process for identifying environmental effects

Activity: building a new house
Identify possible temporary effects: noise/ dust/ vibrations/ emissions/hazardous substances/ odour/ land contamination from construction
Examples of environmental effects Ranking of effect Avoid/ remedy/ mitigate effect AEE action

Noise from construction

Minor

Noise from construction will be minor due to the distance from the construction site to the neighbouring property.

May need specialist advice on noise levels. Mention in AEE.

Fewer parking spaces on street due to worker vehicles

No effect

The site is large enough to allow parking space for builders on site.

Mention in AEE.

Identify possible permanent effects: visual effects, loss of trees and vegetation, shading neighbouring property, soil stability, privacy, stormwater/ sewer capacity, traffic generation, landscape changes, effects on water quality/ quantity, cultural/ spiritual values on iwi, effects on heritage sites/ buildings/ structures/ objects, pollution, loss of recreational values of land etc.
Examples of environmental effects Ranking of effect Avoid/ remedy/ mitigate effect AEE action

Visual effects

Significant

Negative visual effects of the new house on the natural landscape will be mitigated by extensive native planting, softening the appearance.

Need to show landscaping plan in AEE and discuss how visual impacts of the new house will be mitigated.

Loss of trees

Significant

Although some trees will be removed to construct the house, new trees will be planted as part of an extensive landscaping plan. Not all trees will be removed.

Discuss landscaping plan in AEE and show how it will mitigate effects of removing trees.

Shading neighbours property

No effect

The new house and trees will not shade the neighbour's property because of the distance between the two.

Mention in AEE.

Identify possible cumulative effects: change in character, loss of urban vegetation, effects on waterways, landscape, effects on infrastructure etc.
Examples of environmental effects Ranking of effect Avoid/ remedy/ mitigate effect AEE action

Change in street character

Minor

Design of the house will be in keeping with the current dwellings.

Describe house and landscaping design. Show pictures of existing street character in AEE.

Disturbance to urban vegetation

Minor

Vegetation will be replanted following construction, therefore having no long term cumulative effects on urban vegetation. Restorative planting will improve the urban vegetation in the area.

Describe landscape design and ability to restore and add to urban vegetation in AEE.

Step 6: Pre-application meeting(s) - generally for complex applications only

Potentially complex applications might need a 'pre-application meeting'.

When is an application 'complex'?

In practice, a 'complex' application is likely to involve a situation where:

  • there is something unusual about the site or the locality
  • consents are required from one or more authority
  • a number of outstanding issues need to be clarified
  • technical information needs to be obtained and interpreted and there are a number of methods to do this. (If you need to explain the techniques used in forecasting analysis and evaluating potential impacts, agree these with the council first, as the subject matter and variations in the assumptions and preferences of each party may influence the final analysis - including whether the council accepts the report.)

Communication with council staff is also important for clarifying procedures or council positions. Some councils also like to hold meetings for certain types of applications - for example, for extensive greenfield subdivision or for mining applications.

What's the purpose of the meeting?

The meeting aims to get specific council feedback on your proposal so you can lodge the most appropriate application and accompanying AEE. It is really another form of consultation.

This meeting (or meetings) can also be used to agree on:

  • the information to be provided
  • the techniques to be used - including any assumptions on the acceptability of baseline data
  • any particular requirements for consultant involvement.

For the meeting to be effective, staff from specialist fields within the council are likely to attend (eg, traffic, air quality, groundwater). If you have specialist consultants on board already, they should attend the meeting. It is helpful to bring along as much information as possible about your proposal to the meeting. This may include draft concepts and photographs of the site.

What's the procedure for the meeting?

The procedure is between you and the council. You should ensure feedback and advice from the meeting are agreed and recorded in minutes. Ask the council staff whether you or they will arrange this, and if they have any set format or meeting protocols. The council may charge for this meeting. Ask whether this is standard practice, and about the standard rates for charging.

Step 7: Re-evaluate the proposal

At this stage, you should formally review your proposal with a view to making the appropriate modifications. It is important to finalise the activity description and make sure you have identified all the relevant effects, including addressing all those raised in consultation or, alternatively, why any effects raised have not been progressed.

Step 8: Finalise the AEE

Check you have all the information to draft your AEE. This means you have all the information to:

  • accurately describe the activity
  • accurately describe the site and locality
  • complete your effects checklist, including ranking and discussing how any adverse effects may be avoided, remedied or mitigated
  • identify any consultation undertaken and its results
  • clearly identify any restrictions on the consent where these have been imposed to resolve affected parties' concerns
  • (where significant effects are likely to occur) identify alternatives you have considered and why they were rejected
  • identify any proposals for monitoring potential and actual effects.

Do I need to write the AEE into a final report or can I just give the council my checklist?

The final AEE report should clearly identify the process you have gone through. While the checklists do provide the basic requirements for the council, you should write them up so they are clearly expressed.

Am I ready to lodge the application now?

First, you need to put the application together. To apply for a resource consent you need to:

  1. Fill in the application form (available from the council).
  2. Attach a complete assessment of environmental effects (an AEE) of the proposal, including the way any negative effects can be addressed.
  3. Include any other information required by the plan.
  4. Include plans of your activity.
  5. Pay an application fee, which may be a deposit only.

Secondly, you may need to obtain approval from any affected parties. You may have already talked to affected parties to determine whether they are willing to give approval. You should now ask them to sign their approval to your proposal. Most councils have a pre-prepared form that affected parties can sign. Alternatively, they can sign a statement about both the AEE and the plans, which states they have read and understood the proposal, sighted the plans and give their approval to them.

Now can I lodge it?

Yes. You can either post the application to the council or present it over the counter. The advantage of the latter is you can be certain that the council accepts the application. The council may reject an incomplete application within five working days of receiving it. If they do not accept it you can find out exactly what else is required before the application is acceptable. If the council requires more information, be certain about what is required. If the application is accepted, ask the council officer who accepts the application for a contact number and name for later enquiries.

Do I now just wait for my application to be granted or declined?

The RMA requires the council to consider the effects of your proposal on the environment. If either the plans or the accompanying reports do not contain enough information to enable the council to understand the application and its effects, it will require further information.

Your application is processed in accordance with the resource consent procedure outlined in Section 1 of this guide. You can expect delays in processing if the council asks for further information. This should only happen when the information is significant to the understanding or description of the application, your activity's effect(s) on the environment or the ways any adverse effects will be mitigated. Further information should:

  • directly relate to the potential for significant adverse effects arising from your proposal
  • lead to a better understanding of your application
  • consider the implications for affected parties.

If the council requires further information, it will ask for this in writing. Someone may phone you first to discuss what is required. If you have not heard from the council within two weeks of lodging your application, you should phone to enquire about how the processing is going.

What do I do if I need to provide more information?

You must, within 15 working days of the request for more information, either:

  • provide the information requested to council, or
  • tell the council in writing that you will supply the information, or
  • tell the council in writing that you refuse to supply the information.

If you agree in writing to provide the information, the council will let you know in writing a reasonable timeframe for providing the information, depending on its nature. If you do not object to, or subsequently appeal against, the request for further information, you have an obligation to provide it no later than 10 working days before the hearing of an application.

Any further information you provide must not materially change your application. If material changes need to be made, you will need to lodge another application that incorporates such changes.

What if I don't think I should have to provide the information?

You are able to refuse to provide further information and request the council to proceed with the application on the basis of the information already provided. The council must then continue to process the application and either grant or refuse it. If the council declines the application, you can appeal that decision to the Environment Court.

If your application requires public notification and you refuse to provide further information, this will not affect the notification process. Council must still notify the application and take into account submissions from adversely affected persons before granting or refusing consent for the proposed activity.