carrying out inspections of activities with resource consents to ensure compliance with conditions
carrying out inspections of permitted activities (that do not require a resource consent) to ensure compliance with our plans
responding to and investigating environmental pollution incidents
investigating and prosecuting when there is breach of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA 1991)
Consent compliance inspections
More than 4000 resource consents are inspected in Southland each year. Every time a condition of a resource consent is inspected, a compliance grade is recorded. The compliance grades are assessed to determine compliance with resource consent conditions. Consistent, full compliance with conditions of a resource consent may result in the consent holder being inspected less frequently. Conversely, persistent or significant non-compliance is likely to result in enforcement action.
Southland is a province built largely around a prosperous agricultural industry. The environmental impact of these is monitored through the resource consent Regional Plan monitoring process. However it should be noted that there are a number of other industries in Southland that have their environmental impact inspected through the same process. All industries within Southland require a resource consent to discharge to air, water, coast and land. These discharges are monitored to ensure compliance with consents and to minimise impacts on the environment.
We undertake inspections of properties for a number of reasons – including routine monitoring inspections, investigations as a result of a reported incident and aerial inspections. Where we are called to investigate an incident, we will not usually provide any advance notice we are coming – we will respond with the level of urgency determined by the situation. Our staff are warranted officers under the Resource Management Act and have the right to enter the property for the purpose of investigating a breach or potential breach or monitoring of consent conditions.
For routine monitoring, we always endeavour to make contact with the consent holder or nominated person in charge prior to arrival – this may be within a short time before we arrive on site as there are many factors that influence the day, including some properties taking longer than others, issues being identified, samples needing returned to the office or the officer being called to attend an unrelated incident in the area.
We carry out aerial inspections at several times during the year via helicopter. While we sometimes let the community know we will be flying on a particular day, due to factors including health and safety this is not always possible. We will always try to report back when we have been out and about in helicopters and this usually happens through our Facebook page.
We don’t currently use drones for any routine monitoring, however they may be used very occasionally for the purpose of an investigation and the property owner or person in charge would be made aware of this at the time.
The Compliance Plan sets out Environment Southland’s compliance priorities for the 2019 calendar year. Through this plan, the aim is to maintain and improve environmental outcomes associated with the activities we regulate.
A large part of the compliance team's work is focused on the monitoring of resource consent conditions and permitted activities. In a regional plan there are three major types of activities:
Activities that do not require a consent, but have conditions that must be met (permitted)
Activities that do require a resource consent (there are differing consent levels)
Activities that cannot be undertaken (prohibited)
The compliance team monitor a range of activities that fall into each of these categories. When a breach is confirmed, which can be the result of regular monitoring programme, from self-reported incidents, or publicly reported incidents, Environment Southland has a statutory obligation to deal with under the Resource Management Act 1991.
If you're not happy with the service you've received from the compliance team at Environment Southland or with a decision on a reported incident, we'd like to hear from you. We have a dedicated process to address your concerns, resolve any outstanding issues, and to help us to improve our service and processes.
Our complaint resolution process can deal with complaints about:
An incident resolution (please note, this only applies to decisions that aren't related to enforcement)
An inspection outcome
Poor service by a compliance staff member
An invoice you have received regarding cost recovery
Our communication with you (i.e. you feel we haven't been clear)
Our conduct (i.e. you believe you haven't been treated with courtesy or respect)
Postal address: Environment Southland, Private Bag 90116, Invercargill 9840
Attn: Compliance Manager
Street address: Cnr North Road and Price Street, Waikiwi, Invercargill
In your complaint, please include:
your name, phone number and email address*
date of incident or contact with compliance team member
your company name, if applicable
cost recovery account details, if applicable
an explanation - the what, when and why of your complaint
Timeframes for resolving complaints
When we receive complaints, we aim to acknowledge complaints within 2 working days and respond or resolve complaints within 15 working days.
If you have more than one complaint, or your complaint is about more than one issue, we may need more time. If this happens, we'll let you know.
Your initial complaint will be investigated by the supervisor of the officer involved (team leader or manager). A written record will be made by the investigator documenting the nature of the complaint, any findings and any action proposed to be taken. The written record and proposed actions will be approved by someone at least one up from the investigator - either the manager or the relevant director. Once approved, the proposed action will be undertaken as soon as reasonably possible.
If however you remain unsatisfied with the resolution to your issue, you have the right to ask for the matter to be further reviewed by a member of Environment Southland's executive team (excluding the relevant director).
When we assess complaints, we aim to:
keep an open mind and take a fresh look at the issues raised
acknowledge any mistakes and put them right if we can
have our response checked for quality, completeness, and accuracy
understand things from your point of view
understand the reasons why you have lodged a complaint and address those reasons
escalate your complaint to a supervisor
keep in mind the context of our scope and role
operate within legal boundaries and business policies
What we need from you
It'll make it easier for us to resolve your complaint if you:
clearly identify the grounds for your complaint
provide any extra information we may ask for
act honestly and treat us with courtesy and respect - we'll do the same for you.
* We will use the personal information you give us to correspond with you in relation to your complaint. We generally do not share your personal information unless it's necessary for the purpose for which you gave us the information (to fully and fairly investigate your complaint). We will not use it for any other purpose or disclose it except in exceptional situations, or for other reasons permitted under the Privacy Act 1993, or if - in rare instances - we were required by law (for example, to investigate a criminal offence).