Resource consent conditions – value or risk?
Resource consent conditions have the potential to either bring value or risk to your business. Which way it swings depends on a few factors, including whether they are appropriate for your particular operation and the extent to which you and your team understand their purpose and how to comply with them.
In theory this should be easy enough. Best practice consent conditions should be:
- Written in plain English so anyone reading it knows what’s required and understands the obligations of the consent holder;
- Relevant to the subject of the consent;
- Fair, reasonable and practical;
- For a resource management purpose and within the Council’s RMA powers.
Councils generally send ‘draft conditions’ to applicants for their review and signoff before granting a consent. This gives you the opportunity to ensure the conditions are suitable for your operation and can be complied with. Often, in signing off the draft conditions you are legally changing your application to include them, which means you can’t challenge them down the line if there is a problem.
In reality there are many examples of consents out there with conditions that are interpreted differently by different people, aren’t quite right for the operation so can’t be fully complied with, or people operating under them simply don’t understand how or why to comply with them. These situations can set the consent holder up to fail in meeting their compliance obligations.
Why Worry About Your Consent Conditions?
Recent years have seen a significant increase in the focus on consent compliance and tolerance for non-compliance is continually reducing. This means more consents are being monitored more often and any resulting non-compliances may have greater consequences than in the past. A record of non-compliance poses risk to your business in terms of enforcement action and/or prosecution, whether your consent will be renewed and if so under what conditions and at what cost, any supply contracts you might hold and your social license to operate which is becoming increasingly important.
On the other hand, having a fit for purpose consent, a good grasp on your consent conditions and robust compliance record is increasingly valuable. This enables you to demonstrate to Council, supply companies, customers and the public that you understand and actively manage your environmental footprint. In addition to avoiding the risks noted above, you’ll be well positioned to adapt to ongoing changes in environmental regulation and minimise the impacts it may have on your business.
It pays to be proactive in managing your consent compliance. If you need a hand, whether it be simply understanding your obligations, setting up robust systems or processes to manage compliance or completing compliance reporting requirements, WM Environmental can help. Our team has extensive operational and compliance experience and can support you in getting the most value out of your consent condition compliance. Contact us here.
Posted: 5 June 2020