Presenter:  Chris Hillman, Tonkin & Taylor

Presentation title:  NES Permitted Activity Regulation for Subdivision – what does ‘Highly Unlikely’ actually mean and how do you assess it?

Regulation 8(4)(b) of the NES for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil requires that for subdivision to be a permitted activity, a PSI should state it is highly unlikely that there will be a risk to human health. The Ministry for the Environment guidance is that the plain English interpretation of highly unlikely should be used, but what does that mean when you actually have to assess a particular site? Is it de minimus, 95% confidence, less than minor, something else? What quality/quantity of desk study information do you need to be certain that a highly unlikely conclusion is appropriate?    This paper examines how this rule has been applied across the country since the NES was introduced and uses input from lawyers and planners to narrow down where highly unlikely lies in the continuum between the balance of probabilities and impossible. The paper also proposes a methodology to achieve a robust assessment of whether a proposed activity is highly unlikely to be a risk to human health.

Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2013

Date: Wednesday 23 October 2013