Notification of quarry consents

Environment Canterbury uses the Resource Management Act and the Canterbury Air Regional Plan to manage air quality and activities that generate dust.

Quarrying activities typically require a resource consent for the discharge of dust into the air. When considering a resource consent application, Environment Canterbury decides if public notification or limited notification (to specific affected people) is required. It is possible for an applicant to request that their application is notified, too.

Below you can read more information about the process that Environment Canterbury goes through before deciding if a resource consent from a quarry should be notified.

What is public and limited notification?

Public notification means the application would be publicly advertised and public submissions are invited. Anyone can make a submission on a publicly notified consent.

Limited notification is also an option if the proposed activity has relatively local effects but the applicant is unable to get written approval from all affected persons. When limited notification occurs, only parties that are limited notified can make a submission. More information on what notification entails can be read here.

How does a consent become notified?

Environment Canterbury follows the processes set out in the Resource Management Act to identify who might be affected and whether notification of the application is required.

Step one is to identify sensitive receptors that might be potentially impacted by dust discharge. In rural areas around quarries, a sensitive receptor includes a residential dwelling, including the garden or curtilage (because that is effectively part of the house in terms of people’s use of their property).

Step two is to assess, in more detail, the potential effects of any dust on houses and other sensitive receptors. This step is influenced by the:

  • scale of the activity
  • sensitivity of the neighbouring environment
  • patterns of wind direction and speed
  • how the applicant proposes to mitigate effects
  • relevant guidelines such as the Ministry for the Environment’s Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing Dust¹ and international guidelines such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Victoria Guidelines².

If it is determined in step two that the proposed discharge of dust to the air could have minor or more than minor effects on people living in the area, the consent would be limited notified to those people. The application must be publicly notified if:

  • effects on the environment more widely are more than minor;
  • Environment Canterbury considers that exceptional circumstances apply; or
  • if the applicant requests it.

¹ Ministry for the Environment. 2016. Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing Dust. Wellington: Ministry for the Environment.

² Environmental Protection Authority Victoria. Recommended separation distances for industrial residual air emissions. Publication 1518. March 2013

What happens after notification?

Following notification and receipt of submissions, the consent application goes for a decision on whether the consent can be granted or declined. If there are submitters to be heard, the decision is made through a hearing process by an independent hearings panel. This includes a recommendation made by Environment Canterbury reporting officers. For each application, the recommendation by Environment Canterbury about separation distances between the quarry and neighbouring properties will take into account the specific details of proposed quarrying at that site. 

The effects are considered along with any mitigations proposed, and a decision is then made consistent with RMA requirements and any applicable objectives and policies from relevant national and regional plans. Consent conditions may be applied to manage any effects.

Where consents are required from both the regional council and territorial authority, in most cases both sets of consents are processed in parallel and decided together.

How does quarrying generate dust?

In Canterbury, greywacke aggregate is quarried on the plains and is extracted from braided rivers. Open cast mining for coal and limestone also occurs at a few locations.

Aggregate quarrying can generate dust through:

  • extraction of material from a quarry (generally with an excavator rather than blasting)
  • truck movements on site haul roads
  • stockpiling and movement of aggregate on site – into trucks or on conveyers
  • crushing and screening of aggregate
  • earthworks for overburden stripping and bund construction