Where it is understood that the exercise of a consent could result in a specific adverse effect and the consequence of that effect would change the quality or state of the receiving environment, a ‘trigger & response’ condition can require a restriction on the exercise of that consent or a cessation of an activity when a specific situation occurs.
This is commonly done with some water permits to take water from surface water or groundwater where the amount that can be taken has to be reduced when, for example, the flow in a river drops below a specified flow or the groundwater drops below a specified level. Similarly, with some discharge permits to discharge contaminants to a river, the amount of the discharge must be reduced when the river drops below a specified flow.
Often the resource trigger points are specified in a plan but it is also common for these to be developed as part of a resource consent process. The level of information needed to determine an appropriate long-term trigger can be significant. In the absence of adequate detailed technical information, interim triggers can be established with further monitoring/investigations used to establish future triggers.
An example trigger/response condition: If the level of water in groundwater monitoring bore ABC09002 drops below WXY metres above mean sea level, the abstraction of water shall reduce to Z cubic metres per day.
The condition provides for resource use to occur provided specified environmental conditions exist. May be critical in situations where there is uncertainty about cumulative adverse effects. Such a condition must be linked with detailed monitoring and reporting conditions that record abstraction quantities and groundwater levels.