Pamphlets and summary sheets can be used to provide clear and succinct advice to the public about plan provisions, the resource consent process and the requirements of the RMA. Such documentation may be based on specific topics such as:
- zones: rural, residential, inner city etc
- resource environments/areas
- activities: subdivision, discharge to water etc.
Resource consent topics
- resource consent - what is it and why do I need one?
- lodging a resource consent application
- how to prepare a consent application, including the preparation of an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) in accordance with information required in Schedule 4
- deemed permitted activities
- consultation, affected persons and written approvals
- difference between notified, limited notified and non-notified resource consents
- making a submission on a resource consent application
- hearings and pre-hearing meetings
- after the decision - now that you have your resource consent
- appeals and objections to decisions
- compliance, monitoring and enforcement.
The following are some tips and things to remember when writing material for pamphlets/brochures and making them available:
- The person reading the pamphlet/brochure may have no experience or understanding of the RMA whatsoever.
- Keep the material simple and try to avoid the use of technical language or planning jargon.
- Keep information short and to the point. Avoid lengthy descriptions.
- Include council contact details for people wanting more guidance.
- Make the pamphlets/brochures available on the council website.
- Have a look at what other councils have done: some very good council pamphlets on RMA matters and processes already exist that may be easily adapted for your council.
- Keep the pamphlets/brochures up to date.
- Make them easily accessible to the public (eg, near the public counter and in libraries).
- Always have a good supply at hand.
The Ministry for the Environment has produced An Everyday Guide to the RMA series of booklets, which can be downloaded from the MfE website. It should be noted that these Everyday Guides have not been updated to reflect RLAA17, however, on the most part they contain relevant information that Councils may want to adapt to suit their own requirements, or refer to the public... The booklets which relate to the resource consent process include:
- Getting in on the Act - an everyday guide to the RMA
- Applying for a resource consent
- Consultation for resource consent applicants
- Your rights as an 'affected person'
- Making a submission about a resource consent application
- Appearing at a resource consent hearing
- Resolving Resource Management Act concerns
- Your guide to the Environment Court
- You, mediation and the Environment Court
- The Environment Court: awarding and securing costs
(The series also covers enforcement, making a submission about a proposed plan or plan change, appearing at a council plan or plan change hearing, the designation process, and national level guidance and processes).
Other helpful links providing guidance on the resource consent process include:
- A beginner's guide to resource and building consent processes under the RMA 1991 and Building Act 2004 (produced by the Ministry for the Environment jointly with the (former) Department of Building and Housing
- The MfE website: RMA processes and how to get involved
It is good practice to attach relevant pamphlets to outgoing correspondence from the council.
The councils website is a very good place to provide details on how to make a resource consent application and what information needs to be provided.
Sending out information to a mailing list (email or SMS text) on a regular basis could easily be used for educating people on the resource consent process. Similar to newsletters (noted below) but via email/SMS.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Neighbourly and the like provide a good way to reach a wide audience. This allows the public to interact with the council, and ask questions.
Forums for regular applicants
Hold forums with regular applicants such as: resource management consultants, surveyors, architects, iwi, engineers, and government and development agencies. Discussing the application process, sharing ideas and fostering relationships can make a real difference to the quality of resource consent applications and the council's ability to process resource consents efficiently.
Feature articles in the local newspaper
Placing feature articles in local papers can be a good way to reach a wide audience, and potentially educate a large proportion of the public on the resource consent process. As a general rule, the better informed the community becomes about the entire process, the easier the councils job. Some councils have a regular bulletin in their local newspaper, presenting weekly events occurring at the council. This medium could easily be used for educating people on the resource consent process.
Council newsletters are likely to reach a vast majority of the people involved in the resource consent process as applicants, as submitters, or as affected persons. These newsletters could include topics covered by council pamphlets/brochures, or other sources of relevant information.
Council displays at public shows
Councils can produce displays for agricultural shows, home shows, trade shows and so on. These are useful and informative forums which not only display information but also allow the public to interact with council officers present, and ask questions.