RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLANNING
Under the Resource Management Act 1991, we require resource consents to enable us to operate our generation schemes. Accordingly, we monitor district, regional and national level policy documents that have the potential to impact on existing assets or future development aspirations. In total, this constitutes over 60 different council regions where statutory plans are being developed, reviewed or amended.
Involvement in the planning process is critical to ensuring our existing assets are adequately protected, and enhancement or further development is not unduly restricted.
We advocate for appropriate weight to be afforded to the benefits of renewable energy in all planning documents throughout New Zealand.
The past year saw a number of key legislation changes which have influenced our operations, including the Resource Management Amendment (Streamline and Simplify) Bill and the Environment Canterbury Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management Act. We have also actively participated in the development of the proposed National Policy Statement on Freshwater, and the National Environmental Standard on ecological flows.
We have also been working to prepare the Company for the proposed Phase II changes to the Resource Management Act, released in mid-2010, which will include:
• improving infrastructure provisions
• consideration of better freshwater management
• sustainable and cost effective aquaculture planning and development
• addressing the establishment, role and functions of the new Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
THE YEAR AHEAD
Our focus for the coming year will be to continue to strive to achieve our goal of zero non-compliance events; gain any necessary resource consents on terms that are both environmentally and commercially acceptable; and ensure our involvement in the various planning instruments that can impact upon the operation of our schemes.
Tonkin and Taylor was commissioned in 2009 to undertake a Resource Management Act (RMA) compliance review for our Company’s 20 generation schemes. This review was part of a programme of reviews set down in our Environmental Management System, which schedules an independent RMA compliance review every four years. The last review was completed in 2005.
The 2009 review evaluated compliance for an extensive range of resource consent conditions (in the order of 750 operational/monitoring conditions), and regional and district plan provisions (in the order of 400). Overall, compliance with these requirements was assessed to be “high” with the instances of non-compliance being extremely rare (about 1% for resource consents and about 3% for plan provisions).
This shows significant improvement since the 2005 review with overall resource consent compliance increasing from 77% in 2005 to 94% in 2009. The “unable to confirm compliance” numbers are as a result of the appropriate information being unavailable at the time of the audit.
Avoiding Non-Compliance Events
Our goal as an electricity generator is to have zero non-compliance events. Currently TrustPower holds 481 resource consents, containing in excess of 3,100 conditions, with which we must comply.
In an ongoing effort to ensure that all staff keep compliance at the forefront of their daily activities, further training in environmental compliance and awareness has been undertaken by all generation staff this year, as part of a biennial environmental training programme.
As a direct result of the initiatives implemented over the last five years, our non-compliance events have been reduced from 18 in 2006 to five in 2009. 2010 saw a repeat of last year’s outstanding result, with a total of five non-compliance events. All five events were reported to the appropriate regional authorities, which determined that none were significant and no enforcement action was required.
Managing Contaminant Releases
The term ‘contaminant release’ refers to the uncontrolled or accidental release of a hazardous substance or contaminant into the environment. 2010 saw zero contaminant releases occur across our 20 generation schemes (hydro and wind) compared, with one event in 2009.