Reporting back

Environmental incident response

Date: 20 September 2022
Reporting Frequency: Annually
Category: Regional and Strategic Leadership

Goal

Assess reported incidents to stop environmental damage.

Responded incidents

3,763 in 2021/22

About this goal

We want to deal with environmental risks before they turn into incidents and cause damage - a fence at the top of the cliff.

Monitoring consent compliance and responding to incidents, while necessary and important, are more like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. They are needed to fix a problem often after the environmental damage has occurred, and stop it happening again.

During 2021/22 there were 3,763 resource management incidents across Canterbury. 3,649 of them were assessed and 114 were still being processed at the time of reporting. Most reports related to:

  • 93% discharge to land, air, water, and coastal marine areas,
  • 7% to use of land, water and coastal marine,
  • 0.03% to emission of noise.

If an incident has the potential to seriously impact the environment, a Resource Management Officer will make a site visit at the earliest opportunity.

2021-22 Annual Report

Protecting the environment is our top priority. The public play an important role in protecting our region’s natural resources. Every year, we receive approximately 4,400 reports regarding incidents with potential to harm the quality of our air, land, or water.

Most reports last year related to discharges to air – many relating to outdoor burns and dust.

We respond to environmental incidents and consent breaches with a range of enforcement procedures to remediate adverse effects, educate those responsible, and prevent similar incidents recurring.

All reports are researched and evaluated to assess the potential environmental effects. Due to the high volume of reports, we respond to the most serious incidents first. Our priority when responding is the safety of our officers, followed by minimizing any adverse effect, and then investigating the incident.

Our staff call upon expertise from other technical staff (scientists, engineers), city and district council staff, and external consultants as the situation demands.

Breaching the Resource Management Act can amount to serious criminal offending. Our investigative practices are carried out to police standards, including conducting thorough scene examinations and evidence gathering.

Why this matters

Incidents involving contaminants in waterways or unauthorized discharges to land or air should be notified to Environment Canterbury by calling us on 0800 765 588 (24 hours).

We evaluate all calls to assess the potential environmental effects the reported incidents may have. Due to the high volume of reports we can receive, we respond to the most serious incidents first.

Assessment grades by inspections

 Due to rounding, numbers presented throughout this webpage and other documents may not add up precisely to the totals provided and percentages may not precisely reflect the absolute figures.

What the grades mean

 A - Full compliance 
Full compliance with all relevant consent conditions, plan rules, regulations and national environmental standards.

 B - Low risk non-compliance
Compliance with most of the relevant consent conditions, plan rules, regulations and national environmental standards. Carries a low risk of adverse environmental effects.

 C - Moderate non-compliance
Non-compliance with some of the relevant consent conditions, plan rules, regulations and national environmental standards. Some environmental consequence.

 D - Significant non-compliance
Non-compliance with many of the relevant consent conditions, plan rules, regulations and national environmental standards. Significant environmental consequence.

How we respond to improve compliance grades

We provide a 24-hour point of contact for reporting environmental incidents to ensure a suitable response occurs. All calls received are researched and evaluated to assess the potential environmental effects. Due to the high volume of reports, we respond to the most serious incidents first.

If there is an issue, our first response is to work with individuals and businesses to stop any immediate environmental damage.

We then investigate to determine what actions should be taken, including enforcement.

Education can achieve better outcomes and is valued by consent holders who need help. If education does not get the right results, there are a range of compliance actions as set out below:

  • Formal written warnings notify of an offence and require action to be taken.
  • Infringement notices, which include a fine, are issued for more significant breaches.
  • Abatement notices are a formal written direction, requiring certain actions to be taken or to cease within a specified time.
  • Prosecution is reserved for offences so serious that warrant court proceedings.

Find out more

Read our incident response reports from the past year and previous years.

Report an environmental incident.

Find out how ratepayer funding supports this work with our Rates Tool.

 

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