Participating in a marine consent process

Assessing a marine consent application

In order to decide whether or not to lodge a submission, you will need to assess a marine consent application to determine the effects of the proposed activity on the environment and any existing interests.

Ensure that you have the full application

Before assessing a marine consent application, ensure that you have access to the full documentation including the marine consent application, the impact assessment, and any supporting technical reports.

Check that effects have been identified and addressed

Check that the effects of concern to you have been adequately identified and assessed. This may include impacts on the benthic environment, marine mammals or fishing interests.

Identify any modifications to mitigate effects

Identify how the application could be modified or measures that could be taken to reduce adverse effects to acceptable levels. Identify other mechanisms for addressing adverse effects, such as environmental offsetting.

Consult with others

Arrange to meet with other interested parties to discuss the application. They may have similar concerns to yours and be able to provide different perspectives on the application. Explore the possibility of lodging a joint submission and pooling resources to obtain professional assistance.

If possible, discuss the application with relevant professionals (such as a marine ecologist or oceanographer) who can provide initial guidance on the adequacy of the application and potential impacts of the proposal.

Preparing submissions on marine consent applications

Before preparing a submission on a marine consent application you will need to assess the application to identify which aspects of the application you wish to support or oppose. Once you have identified issues you would like to raise, you can prepare a written submission and lodge it with the EPA.

Form of submission

The EPA provides a submission form particular to each marine consent application. This will be available on the EPA website when the submission period opens.

Content of submission

Your submission will need to set out: 

  • Your contact details
  • Whether you have an existing interest that may be affected by the application
  • Your position on the proposed application (Do you support in full, support in part, are neutral, oppose in part, oppose in full, or have a range of views on the application?)
  • Your reasons for your position. (When writing your reasons you should consider the Decision-Making Criteria and Information Principles that the Decision-Making Committee will need to take into account.)
  • The decision you would like the EPA to make
  • In what form you would prefer correspondence. (There will be a large amount of correspondence so we recommend you use electronic methods if possible)
  • Whether you wish to speak to your submission by presenting at the hearing. (You should attend the hearing to present your submissions if possible. The Decision-Making Committee is likely to give greater weight to submissions where it has heard from submitters and had the opportunity to ask questions. Stating you wish to be heard at submission stage does not obligate you to attend. However, you should always give plenty of notice if you later change your mind.)
  • Whether you will be available to participate in meetings or mediation
  • Whether you will be providing expert witnesses

Lodging of submission

Submissions may be lodged by mail or email. Directions will be set out on the EPA website when the submission period opens. There is no charge for lodging a submission.

Presenting submissions at the hearing

If you have lodged a submission, and have indicated that you would like to be heard, you will have the opportunity of presenting oral submissions and evidence to a Decision-Making Committee.

Hearing procedure

Marine consent hearings are required to avoid unnecessary formality. At the time of writing, only three marine consent application have been heard so a ‘normal’ hearing procedure cannot yet be identified. The Decision-Making Committee will produce a document setting out Hearing Procedures in advance of the hearing. The Decision-Making Committee may ask questions of expert witnesses, and the Committee may - or may not - allow questions to be put directly or indirectly by submitters or their counsel but only the Committee will ask questions of submitters. You may want to consider whether you intend to call expert witnesses. 

Preparation of submissions to present at the hearing

Always make your submissions available in written form. You will need to bring sufficient copies for all members of the Decision-Making Committee, the Applicant, and the EPA.

It is useful to identify ahead of time who will be on the hearing body, and their backgrounds and likely points of view, so that you can target your submissions accordingly.

The purpose of your submissions is to persuade the Decision-Making Committee to agree with your point of view. Avoid being argumentative or badgering.

Avoid personally attacking the applicant, expert witnesses, the Committee or the EPA. This is inappropriate and counterproductive.

Clearly state your concerns and provide information to back up your point of view.

Be concise and to the point. Avoid being verbose. Do not get sidetracked with irrelevant matters, allegations or conspiracy theories.

Make sure that all the material presented to support your submission is consistent.

Where possible illustrate your points with maps, photographs and illustrations.

Always use words that you understand and customarily use so that your presentation flows naturally.

Structure of submissions

Start by introducing yourself and/or your organisation. Provide a brief description of your background, and your organisation's objectives, activities and membership base.

Where you have made efforts to resolve your concerns directly with the applicant state this and the reasons why no resolution was achieved (without directly attacking the bona fides of the applicant).

State concisely the issues which are of concern to you.

Where there is more than one person involved in presenting your case, state who will be giving submissions or evidence and on what issues. Each issue of concern should have a separate section in your submission. This should state in more detail the nature of your concern, provide supporting information to support your concern, and clearly state what action you would like the Decision-Making Committee to take in order to address the concern.

Include a brief concluding section which summarises the essence of your concerns and action sought.

Thank the Decision-Making Committee for taking th time to hear and consider your submissions.

Sources of supporting information

Supporting information for issues of concern can include:

Drawing the Decision-Making Committee attention to relevant parts of the EEZ Act, EEZ regulations, and other statutes and instruments relevant to marine management (such as the RMA and New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement).

Identifying any relevant research and reports which support your concerns

Describing any local knowledge that you have about the environment and the impacts of the proposed activity on it

Describing practical cases or examples which illustrate your main points

You may wish to use a lawyer to support your case and call expert witnesses relevant to your specific matters of concern (e.g. marine ecologist, marine mammal/seabird experts, oceanographer)

Presenting your submissions

Read from your written submissions but, where appropriate, ad-lib relevant comments.

Speak slowly and clearly and try to vary your tone to keep up interest.

Where possible illustrate points through reference to photographs, maps, slides and other pictorial material. Make sure that all members of the Decision-Making Committee have copies. It can be useful to take a large map or diagram, which can be placed on a display board, to illustrate points during your presentation.

Try to avoid repeating what others have already said. Even if you have included such material in the written version of the submissions, you can skip over these sections, and politely inform the hearing body that you are leaving out sections to avoid repetition. They will be relieved!

There is no charge for presenting oral submissions to a Decision-Making Committee.

Last updated at 4:41PM on December 28, 2017