WORKING TO OBTAIN RESOURCE CONSENTS IN THE FACE OF HEAVY TECHNICAL OPPOSITION
Ngati Tuwharetoa Geothermal Assets Limited (NTGA) engaged 4Sight in late 2011 to help acquire resource consents to take additional geothermal fluid from the Kawerau geothermal field, and then again for a second application to renew an existing consent to discharge residue geothermal fluid into the Tarawera River.
4Sight acted as the lead planning advisor for the take application, with key tasks being:
- Working in conjunction with the client and legal advisors to scope the case and evidence requirements;
- Reviewing/integrating scientific and technical information and evidence (Council and Environment Court evidence);
- Preparing draft conditions of consent;
- Preparing and delivering planning evidence for the council hearing;
- Reviewing council decisions and 3rd party appeals;
- Preparing Environment Court evidence and negotiating conditions.
We are currently preparing to proceed to a public hearing for the discharge application. Our role has been more varied for this application. So far we have:
- Reviewed scientific and technical information associated with the Tarawera River;
- Identified critical gaps in the application and scoped project briefs to fill the gaps in short periods of time;
- Prepared an application and assessment of environmental effects for the renewal in accordance with the RMA, which was accepted at first lodgement;
- Liaised with barristers, Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff and other key stakeholders;
- Carried out statutory planning assessments.
The take application is still ongoing, and is primarily made up of scientific and technical issues. Ian Mayhew, a Principal Planning & Policy Consultant at 4Sight, has contributed significantly to a successful outcome by placing the environmental effects of the project into the context of the planning framework which ultimately decides the appropriateness of granting the consent.
Ian has also ensured that the application's renewal occurred smoothly and that critical dates were met, so that the client can continue to operate while the replacement consent is being assessed. The application's lodging date was fast approaching by the time 4Sight was commissioned, so we made sure the appropriate information requirements were identified at the outset, so that the application could still be prepared within relatively tight time constraints.
The resource consent for the take was approved by the Environment Court after a short hearing, where appeals were resolved and the consent's conditions were agreed upon. The resource consent for the discharge is currently being finalised.
Throughout this project, we demonstrated our ability to work to extremely tight deadlines and also to obtain resource consents in the face of significant technical opposition.