Environment Southland is piloting some new initiatives to save resource consent applicants time and money.
An independent audit of their resource consents service recently found that 80% of the work was ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’. However more can be done, says Environment Southland consents manager Michael Durand.
“Feedback we’ve been getting from customers is that consent applications should be more straightforward, and applicants shouldn’t need to engage external help for all applications.”
The team already offers a free 30-minute meeting to provide advice to prospective applicants. However it’s believed this service is currently not used as well as it could be.
“We’re now running a trial to provide these meetings around the region, so people don’t have to travel all the way to Invercargill,” said Michael.
‘Starter for 30’ are individual 30-minute sessions that prospective applicants can book to discuss their specific consent queries. The first of these will be held between 9am and 1pm at the James Cumming Wing in Gore on Thursday 9 August, and there are opportunities to talk to consents staff in Winton on Monday 13 August, at the ANZAC room of the RSA Hall.
Those wanting to book a free ‘Starter for 30’ chat can contact Environment Southland consents staff on 0800 76 88 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another pilot programme is ‘Accelerated Consenting’, which is about providing same-day consent processing and decision making.
“This process will concentrate most of the work on the application into a single day, which will be spent at the site with all the relevant people there. The consent will be granted or declined that day, so it should be much faster than working with applicants and their consultants remotely. It’s likely to be more cost-effective too,” said Michael.
A group of consent applicants has been invited to take part in the pilot over the coming months. If successful, the approach may be offered to others in the future.