Determining the extent of any adverse environmental effects is a component in the decision as to whether the public notification of the application is required in some circumstances.
A more comprehensive effects-based assessment is undertaken under section 104 in determining if an activity is appropriate (and also under section 105 of the RMA which deals with discharge permit, coastal permits and reclamations and section 106 which deals with subdivisions).
When determining the extent of adverse effects, it is good practice to think about the level of effects along a continuum to ensure that each effect has been considered consistently and in turn cumulatively. This continuum may include the following effects:
- Nil Effects
No effects at all.
- Less than Minor Adverse Effects
Adverse effects that are discernible day-to-day effects, but too small to adversely affect other persons.
- Minor Adverse Effects
Adverse effects that are noticeable but will not cause any significant adverse impacts.
- More than Minor Adverse Effects
Adverse effects that are noticeable that may cause an adverse impact but could be potentially mitigated or remedied.
- Significant Adverse Effects that could be remedied or mitigated.
An effect that is noticeable and will have a serious adverse impact on the environment but could potentially be mitigated or remedied.
- Unacceptable Adverse Effects
Extensive adverse effects that cannot be avoided, remedied or mitigated.
Some councils use a similar scale to assess effects based on rating the extent of the effect with a number. Either approach to scale the significance of adverse effects could prove helpful provided there is some guidance on how to apply the scales to different types of activities.