It is widely practised in many countries in a wide variety of forms. In New Zealand, under the Resource Management Act (RMA) framework an EIA is commonly referred to as an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). As the environment is broadly defined in the RMA to include people, communities, culture, heritage and amenity, an AEE can include an assessment of all these aspects of the environment if relevant to the intervention in question.
A full AEE typically brings together all the various components of technical assessment of effects, often as separate sections in the report, including, for example, ecological, physical, landscape, social, economic, health and other components. An effect (while the word impact is used internationally the word effect is preferred in NZ) is broadly defined to include positive and negative effects, short and long term effects, and cumulative effects. Usually analysis of effects includes an assessment of their likely scale and probability.
AEE systems include the legal framework for conducting and administering AEE’s, including processes for public involvement, monitoring and impact mitigation. An AEE is most typically used in the planning stages of a project that has implications for the environment.
Elements of the AEE process may vary slightly with each development and the project scope drafted by the local council – but they are generally as follows:
AEE’s take a wide range of forms and content and can involve a number of specialised experts for large proposals. For smaller projects, the whole AEE may be prepared and presented by the applicant but this is becoming less frequent as the requirements become increasingly complex.
When a consent application is made to a consenting authority (local or regional government) for a decision over which the council has discretion, the authority will sometimes call for submissions from affected parties or the public on the consent and associated environmental documents. The authority will then prepare a report on the consent including technical review of the content of the AEE.
Subsequently the AEE is submitted to further scrutiny at a public hearing prior to a decision being made by a council committee or an independent commissioner. In some cases, where a consent is appealed, the AEE is revised and then scrutinised in the form of technical evidence to an Environment Court hearing.
NPFL advise that any aquaculture proponent engage expert specialists in EIS/AIA/AEE preparation for their venture.
Guidelines for preparing an AEE can be downloaded from the following link:
Experts who may assist with EIS/AIA/AEE preparation include NIWA and the Cawthron Institute but many private consultants are available and may be more cost effective.
Private aquaculture consultants list: