Preparing an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) for a Resource Consent application is easy if you tackle it in steps, as set out below.
What is it exactly that you intend to do? Which District Plan rule/s will your project breach? How will it affect the environment? You will need to think about your proposal and how it will change the site you intend to use or develop.
Even if you already own and live on the site, you should take a fresh look at the area and think about its physical limitations and locality. For example: Is the site flat or sloping? Are there any significant trees or vegetation? Are there any unusual features? What is on the neighbouring properties? Is there access to Council services?
If you're not sure about items such as significant trees or council services, contact us by email or phoneand we will help you identify them.
Once you have done your homework, it is a good idea to talk to an environmental planner before submitting your Resource Consent application. Processing the application is generally simpler, quicker and less costly if you have already sought Council's advice. It is a good idea to bring site photos with you to a pre-application meeting.
A pre-application meeting will assist with:
Consider the site of your proposal and its locality, and understand the environmental issues that would result from your activity. AEEs should anticipate what could be considered unexpected situations.
Once you have identified the actual and potential effects, you should consider how significant they are likely to be. What might happen? What could be the scale, intensity, duration and frequency of the effects? For example, an extension to an existing building might result in the following effects:
Using all of the information that you've gathered for the AEE, take a fresh look at your proposal and see if you need to change anything. You might decide that some environmental effects of your activity would be significant and that you should change your proposal to avoid or fix (remedy) them, or to reduce their effect (mitigate). There might be alternative ways to achieve your aims with less-significant environmental effects.
'Avoid', 'remedy' and 'mitigate' are terms used in the Resource Management Act. Each represents a different way of addressing an adverse effect so that it is acceptable. For example, regarding an adverse visual effect of a quarry:
All three actions might address the adverse effect, but all three outcomes might not be acceptable to the community. It is the purpose of the AEE to work out whether or not an effect needs to be addressed, and if so, the best way to do this.
Re-evaluating your proposed activity can result in a 'win-win' situation, with a better proposal design and better environmental outcomes.
The greater the scale and significance of the effects that your activity might have on the environment, the more information you will need to provide in your AEE.
You need to include enough information in your AEE so Council can properly evaluate your proposal. Some proposals will require more detail and analysis than others. For example, adding a carport onto the side of a house is likely to require much less information and detail than a multi-storey development in an area that is valued for its natural attributes.
You should also check the fourth schedule of the Resource Management Act 1991. This schedule is a guide to what should be considered when preparing an AEE.
For more complex applications, you might need to get specialist advice. There are a number of professionals who assist in preparing AEEs, such as engineers and resource management consultants. Council's environmental planning team can tell you if you need specialist advice and what type of professional would be best to help.
A Resource Consent checklist is available in the 'related documents' section at the bottom of this page.
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