Looking after the Environment: SCIRT Global Resource Consents
The use of global resource consents provided a consistent consenting framework across the SCIRT rebuild programme.
SCIRT's rebuild and repair works had to be carried out urgently and in an environmentally responsible manner.
In an effort to carry out the SCIRT programme in a coordinated and cost effective manner and in accordance with relevant legislation, SCIRT, CCC and Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff worked collaboratively to develop a suite of global resource consents and planning approvals. Some of these consents are attached below.
The massive scale of the work across an entire city, with the additional complexity of extensive on-going investigations to assess asset damage and ground conditions throughout the programme, provided a unique opportunity. Developing Global Consents meant time saving authorisation of activities to reconstruct or repair earthquake damaged infrastructure across the city.
The activities consented included:
- Drilling of geotechnical investigation bores
- Works around protected trees
- Wastewater overflows during wastewater network repairs
- Dewatering abstraction and discharge
- Construction and operation of pump station structures
- Excavation / deposition of material over aquifers
- Disturbance of soil in HAIL sites
- Works in and around archaeological sites
The number and variety of work sites across the city made it difficult to comprehensively identify the range of possible effects of the infrastructure rebuild on the Christchurch environment. As consents were granted, they were communicated to SCIRT Delivery Teams to ensure all projects were applying the consent conditions consistently and working within defined environmental parameters.
Training was provided to Delivery Team environmental team members and ECan compliance staff played a key role in this initial training. This information was then fed through to the project engineers and site crews via toolbox sessions delivered by the environmental team members. This training was essential to upskill the construction crews in environmental matters, many of whom were new to the city and unfamiliar with local conditions and expectations.
The development of this framework of global consents, together with a focus on five key environmental risk areas (trees, archaeology and heritage, spills, wastewater overflows and sediment discharges) fostered a consistent approach across the SCIRT Programme.
This collaborative and pragmatic approach to consenting SCIRT activities served the Christchurch community by delivering value for money, while also providing an efficient repair and rebuild of the city that protected environmental values. The success of the approach was illustrated by the high level of excellent environmental compliance achieved for the duration of SCIRT's programme, which resulted in a very low number of environmental incidents when compared to national averages.
This approach could be readily adapted to other large scale programmes of work, where a unified and consistent approach to environmental management is vital.
In 2013 SCIRT, CCC, ECan and Beca won the New Zealand Planning Institute Best Practice Award for its collaborative approach to developing the global consent framework.