Impact assessment effectiveness in Otago Regional and District Councils
The Resource Management Act (RMA, 1991) has been in place for over 28 years. Section 88 of the RMA (1991) requires ‘impact assessment’, under the name ‘Assessment of Environmental Effects’ (AEE) in accordance with Schedule 4 of the Act. There is a requirement for all resource consents, large and small, to have an accompanying AEE. There are a wide range of different forms of AEE that arise from different authorship. From a mother and father wanting to build a garage to multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects, all require an AEE. The wide scale of AEE presents challenges for planners. What is an effective AEE at these different scales? This research looks to answer this question through the perspective of planners working in a range of councils in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. Effectiveness, as a component of impact assessment, is of growing academic interest. Several theories of how to interpret effectiveness exist. The most prominent theory evaluates impact assessment in relation to Procedural, Substantive, Transactive and Normative effectiveness.Interviews with planners working in councils, to understand their views of effectiveness, were the primary sources of information for this research. Processing planners from the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin City Council, Waitaki District Council, and Clutha District Council were interviewed. Other sources of information include the National Monitoring System data, which collects data related to RMA matters from councils around New Zealand, and a case study. These sources of data supported one another and helped to provide a greater level of certainty in the results of the research.This research compared the results of interviews, NMS data, and the case study to Procedural, Substantive, Transactive and Normative effectiveness. In general, impact assessment was found to be procedurally, substantively, and transactively effective, though specific problems were mentioned, particularly with regard to normative effectiveness. Procedurally, AEE adequately assess environmental effects. Substantively, planners were aware of the objectives of the legislation and were able to achieve substantive effectiveness throughout the AEE assessment process. Tools, such as non-formal communication, enabled a high level of transactive effectiveness. Normative effectiveness was the least well-attested with respondents recognising that barriers existed preventing AEE from being normatively effective.A common theme in the literature is to develop a general framework and then adapt it to the specific local conditions. There are a range of categorisations of effectiveness. Each framework assesses achievement of impact assessment in each category. This research sought to adopt a framework for effectiveness in New Zealand. The research showed that substantive matters are the primary form of effectiveness in New Zealand. All other forms of effectiveness are subservient to substantive aims of the RMA. There is a close relationship between substantive, procedural and transactive effectiveness. Normative effectiveness was less well attested, though there was recognition of systematic barriers preventing normative effectiveness from becoming more prominent in New Zealand.
Advisor: Hilton, Mike; Morgan, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: School of Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: impact; assessment; effectiveness; effective; new; zealand; otago; regional; district; rural; council; environmental; effects; of; procedural; transactive; substantive; normative; legislation; objectives
Research Type: Thesis