All resource consent applications need an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE).

When you apply for resource consent, you need to complete an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). This will help you, and others, understand what happens to the environment when you start your proposed activity.

Any effects, whether positive or negative, long or short-term need to be identified.

It is unlikely an activity will have no effects. If the Council requires a resource consent for an activity, it is because we anticipate the activity may have some effects that need to be considered.

What is an AEE?

An AEE is a written statement which identifies the effects your proposed activity or activities may have on the environment. The effects on the environment that you will need to consider can be short-term or long-term, positive or negative.

In your AEE you need to identify ways that any adverse effects can be avoided or reduced.

It is a good idea to start preparing your AEE as soon as possible. This will help you identify information that may be required by us. You may avoid a request for more information by supplying as much information as you can.

What is an effect?

In simple terms, an effect is the result of an activity. For example, diverting a stream could result in the following effects:

  • impacts on downstream property owners and riparian rights
  • impacts on traditional food gathering by local iwi
  • changes in vegetation adjacent to the stream
  • loss of spawning habitat for fish
  • flooding or erosion of stream banks

How do I rank or quantify an effect?

Determining the extent of any environmental effect is fundamental to deciding whether an application is to be publicly notified, limited notified, or non-notified. Effects on a person or group are also considered when deciding to notify or not notify an application.

When deciding on an application, a more comprehensive effects-based assessment is undertaken to help determine if it’s appropriate. This assessment criteria is set out under section 104 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). Depending on the activity, we may also refer to the criteria under:

  • section 105 which deals with discharge permits, coastal permits, reclamations
  • section 106 which deals with subdivisions
  • section 107 which also deals with discharge permits

When deciding the size of the effects, it is good practice to think about the level of effects over time, or as your activity progresses, along a continuum to ensure that each has been considered consistently and in turn cumulatively. Over a period of time, different levels of effects may be noticed including:

Nil effects:

No effects at all.

Less than minor effects:

Effects that are discernible day-to-day effects, but too small to affect other persons.

Minor effects:

Effects that are noticeable but will not cause any significant impacts.

More than minor effects:

Effects that are noticeable that may cause an adverse impact but could be potentially mitigated or remedied.

Significant effects that could be remedied or mitigated:

An effect that is noticeable and will have a serious impact on the environment but could be potentially mitigated or remedied.

Unacceptable effects:

Extensive adverse effects that cannot be avoided, remedied or mitigated.

Some councils use a similar scale to assess effects but give effects a number ranking. Either way of showing how large or small the effects are is helpful – just make sure you explain the scale you’ve used if different from this.

After consultation has occurred, applicants may then want to consider whether they should either modify the proposal or introduce measures to reduce the effects. This is what is often referred to as avoiding, remedying, or mitigating effects.

How to prepare an AEE

For large, complex projects we recommend you find an expert to help you prepare your application. For assistance on the type of expert you require, our Technical Expert Guide can help.

When preparing your AEE you will need to:

  • Provide a good description of the proposal, the site and surroundings
  • Confirm why you are applying for a consent and confirm compliance with the rules
  • Discuss how your proposal fits with the Regional Plan vision for that zone and how it meets the objectives and policies of the Plan
  • Describe any effects on the environment
  • Describe what effects your proposal may have on people
  • Propose any conditions that may help mitigate any effects of the proposal
  • Provide any specialist reports required to support the application


Taking the time to prepare a good and thorough AEE will save you time and frustration later. Another source of useful information is the Ministry for the Environment website.


If you have any more questions, please get in contact with us at