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The New Zealand EIA System

New Zealand introduced its Environmental Protection and Enhancement procedures, partially based on the Canadian EIA procedure, in 1974 by means of a cabinet minute. At present, EIA in New Zealand is, in principle, almost comprehensive and flexible, in that it applies to all projects and, in addition, to policies and plans prepared under the Resources Management Act provisions. Resulting from a revolution in environmental management, the Resource Management Act, in New Zealand, has replaced numerous previous Acts, including the town and Country Planning Act 1977, the Clean Air Act 1972 and the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967. The Resource Management Act has introduced environmental impact assessment as a central element in a decision-making process designed to achieve the goal of sustainable management. The Ministry for the environment has issued a guide to the Act (MfE, 1991b), a single guide to scoping (MfE, 1992b) and several guides mentioning the environmental assessment or regional policies and plans and of district plans (MfE, 1991c, d, 1992a, 1993) and several other EIA leaflets. The Acts provides the outline of the EIA process, but leaves much detail to be provided by individual regional authorities. Under the current arrangement in New Zealand, the local government has the responsibility of administrating the EIA system and, in particular, the planning departments in local authorities are responsible for dealing with proponents and making recommendations on the basis of the EIA. The Resource Management Act provides for a two-phase screening process and encourages scoping. It indicates the content requirement for EIA report, provides for public participation and consultation and requires that the report be considered in the decision. The main steps involved in EIA in New Zealand are: Alternatives/Design Screening Scoping EIA Report Preparation Review Decision Making Monitoring


As a result of public agitation, the Environmental Assessment and Review Process (EARP) was established by cabinet decision on 20th December, 1973 and amended by a second decision in 1977. These provisions were in 1984, formalized in the Environmental Assessment Review Process Guidelines Order. The EARP Guidelines were intended to ensure that the environmental consequences of proposals for which the federal government has decision-making authority were assessed. Environmental assessment is high profile process in Canada, partly because its application provides one of the most visible manifestations of the governments commitment to the environment and partly because it often provides the best available opportunity for public participation in the environmental decision making. EA has been subject to significant conflicts between federal and provincial governments. Each of the ten provinces and two territories has its own EA legislation which is, generally, more satisfactory than the federal system. At present, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act CEAA is the comprehensive EIA-specific law, passed in response to a series of legal challenges and rulings on the previous 1984 Guidelines Order. CEAA came into force in 1995. Legislative amendments were introduced in 2001 and came into force on October 30, 2003. The legislation is of interest internationally because it entrenches the principle of public participation, designates the responsibilities of federal authorities in regulations and prescribes the requirements and procedure for undertaking different levels of EIA. The Act applies only to projects. Unlike the EARP, the CEAA is less discretionary though it bears many similarities to the EARP. The main steps in the Canadian EA process are: Alternatives/Design Screening Scoping EIA Report Preparation Public Review Decision Making Monitoring