Use of Natural Resources and Town Planning
Our commitment to sustainable land use
We provide world class communications technology to New Zealand, via a nationwide network of mobile and radio sites, exchange buildings, fibre, cable, roadside cabinets and other infrastructure. We recognise that using land for that purpose can affect our environment and communities in which we operate. We take responsibility for those impacts and we are committed to promoting sustainable and responsible use of all the land on which we operate.
We comply with, and strive to surpass, all relevant laws, regulations and standards.
This is a living document so it will capture evolving best practice. We will review these principles within a year and undertake regular reviews after that.
We believe we have a responsibility to act sustainably. We seek to act as a good neighbour through responsible and sustainable use of the land on which we operate.
We have nine principles to guide our land use activities:
EnvironmentWe aim to leave the smallest practicable 'footprint' on the land. We do this by:
- Culture and Heritage
We respect the cultural and heritage values associated with the land:
a. We will take into account tikanga Maori and kaitiakitanga, and operate in accordance with the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi; and
b. We will work with Iwi, local and heritage authorities to avoid locating our facilities in or on archaeological sites, recognised heritage buildings, waahi tapu and taonga.
- Visual and Urban Design
We will do our best to integrate our infrastructure into the urban and rural environments.
We recognise the differing characteristics of the areas in which our facilities are located:
a. We will comply with relevant legislation and regulations on noise generation; and
b. Where there are no relevant legal requirements, use the best practical option to manage our noise emissions.
We aim to understand and minimise impacts on indigenous biological diversity at our sites :
a. We will minimise clearance of vegetation and the extent of earthworks particularly in areas identified as outstanding natural features and landscapes, and significant ecological areas;
b. We will protect recognised significant trees; and
c. We will minimise disturbance to any aquatic indigenous ecosystems caused by any works in waterways and in the marine environment.
- Radio Frequency
We comply with national standards for radio frequency exposure. Wherever practical, we design our sites to surpass these standards.
We will consult with communities with open mindedness and good faith on our intended land use where required under the Resource Management Act 1991 and in addition:
a. We will follow agreed industry best practice to guide our engagement with communities on our plans for new infrastructure in residential areas;
b. We will provide timely information to enable communities to understand what we are doing; and
c. We will make ourselves available to listen and engage with affected communities.
- As a neighbour
We aim to be a good neighbour:
a. We will maintain our properties;
b. We will remove graffiti from our facilities in a timely manner; and
c. We will make ourselves available to listen and engage with our neighbours.
- As a tenant and occupier
We aim to be a good tenant and show respect to landowners:
a. We will negotiate in a professional manner in good faith;
b. We will engage with landowners about access to land; and
c. We will take reasonable steps to minimise disturbance to landowner and/or occupier operations when we enter sites.
- As a major landowner and user of land
a. We will contribute to the development of public policy that promotes sustainable land use whilst delivering our communities' world class communications;
b. Where we no longer require any land that has been transferred from the Crown we will dispose of it under the requirements of the Public Works Act 1981;
c. We will leave the land in good condition on or before disposal;
d. In disposing of land in part we will recognise the sensitivity of the potential new land uses that are to co-exist alongside our continuing land use; and
e. We will provide a safe environment for our employees and other authorised users of the equipment on our land.
CommunityWe aim to engage with and be an active and considerate member of our communities. We do this by:
Resource Management Act (RMA)
Our telecommunications infrastructure must comply with the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and other environmental management and land use legislation.
What is the RMA and why is it important to Telecom?
The RMA empowers district and regional councils to prepare district and regional 'plans' to implement the purpose of the RMA. This purpose is the sustainable management of the use of land and natural and physical resources.
How does it impact on us?
Many of the District Plans prepared by district councils or Regional Plans prepared by regional councils require us to obtain resource consents for
- cell phone and radio towers, aerials and antennas
- roadside cabinets
- telephone exchanges
- earthworks for cable installation/works (other than in roads)
We work with our service providers to minimise environmental effects and the cost of gaining resource consents by improving our equipment design.
The most common environmental issues raised with our telecommunications facilities and infrastructure are
- Noise (air conditioning in cabinets and exchanges)
- Visual appearance (building design, poles/masts and cabinets)
- Radio waves from mobile phone and radio communication sites
Certificates of ComplianceSome District Plans permit our infrastructure installations without the need for Resource Consent. In this situation, we generally seek formal confirmation from the relevant councils that we can install out infrastructure without resource consent - this confirmation is referred to as a Certificate of Compliance (CoC).
Resource ConsentsIn some cases we must submit an application for Resource Consent, to use land for our telecommunication sites.
Each Resource Consent application must be accompanied by a report assessing the effects on the environment if the activity was undertaken. These reports can include, amongst other issues, visual, noise and radio frequency assessments. Once the council has considered the application, or where a hearing is held, it will issue a decision and submitters and the applicant have equal rights to appeal this decision.
DesignationsTelecom is referred to, under the RMA, as a 'requiring authority'. This means we can 'designate' sites for telecommunications infrastructure.
Designations are like a special 'spot zoning' with their own rules and requirements (eg noise, height of structures etc). The use of designations is to recognise that infrastructure (like telecommunications) is often required to locate in areas (eg residential) where district plans do not suitably provide for them. We are currently, establishing a set of 'standard' conditions to apply to our designated sites. This is to ensure consistency in conditions across all of our designations.
The only sites we tend to have designated are our exchanges, satellite stations and radio transmission sites. The purpose of these designations is often notated as "Telecommunication and Radiocommunication and Ancillary Purposes" However, specialist sites such as satellite stations for international communications, will have a designated purpose tailored to the sites specific functions.
The special status of designations comes with the obligation to act reasonably and responsibly in such circumstances. For example we cannot generate uncontrolled and excessive noise from our sites.
The process to designate sites is best suited to larger works and as a consequence generally requires the public notification of any applications to designate a new site. Councils hearing an application for designation may recommend to the requiring authority that it either confirm, modify or withdraw the requirement (application) to designate. Following this recommendation, the requiring authority then issues its decision and the submitters and council have equal rights to appeal this decision.
Working With Councils and Central GovernmentWe work with local, regional and central government to assist them in developing consistent and efficient land use regulations in relation to telecommunication infrastructure. It is often a fine balance between recognising the importance and need for telecommunications sites and any potential effects on the local area.
A recent example of cooperation between Telecom (along with other stakeholders) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE) is the National Environmental Standard (NES) for Minor Telecommunications Works. The NES works to standardise national regulations in relation to
- Radio frequency emissions
- Roadside cabinets (size, location and noise)
- Other in-road infrastructure
ComplianceComplying with legislation and regulations for our network is vital to successful operation. We must not only comply but be seen to comply. Our Network Environmental Compliance System (NECS) is an internal Telecom system for helping us to comply with all relevant environmental and network related legislation.
Our network in roads
Ninety per cent of our arterial network cables are located underground and are at risk to damage during road works.
The Telecommunications Act 2001 permits telecommunication infrastructure to be in roads subject to 'reasonable' conditions imposed by the Road Controlling Authority (usually councils and Transit New Zealand). The process for requesting permission to 'dig up' the road is through submitting 'Road Opening Notices' to the Road Controlling Authority.
Although most of our arterial network cables are underground, 30% of all service cables are overhead.
Where possible, we are working with local councils to remove some overhead cables
- To reduce visual pollution
- In areas where the harsh winter is likely to cause faults in overhead cables
- To assist in cost reduction as a result of power companies recently driving more of their cables underground
Working With Councils and Central Government
Telecom is a member of the New Zealand Utilities Advisory Group (NZUAG), that is working together with the Ministry for Economic Development (MED) to develop a national code to manage utilities access to, and work in, transport corridors (roads and rail).
The NZUAG is a joint consultative group of made up of local government and central government road owners and utility companies working together to create outcomes to benefit all road users and communities.
This National Code will standardise the national regulations for installing, maintaining or repairing our infrastructure in roads.
A copy of this Code was made available in March 2009 for voluntary use to enable councils and utility companies to prepare for the Code to be made mandatory through legislation. The Utilities Access Act 2010 provides that the Minister for Infrastructure may approve the Code. The Code and its processes would then be mandatory for all utility companies, councils, New Zealand Transport Agency and KiwiRail to follow in their roles of either seeking access to the transport corridors to install infrastructure or for processing such requests.
The Code was released for formal consultation (required under the Utilities Act 2010) in February 2011. The aim is for the Code to be in place in mid/late 2011. Refer to the NZUAG website for more detail.
Community engagement and consultation
We are committed to working with the community and aim to effectively address community concerns related to our infrastructure.
We consult with community members over issues like new/existing mobile sites, laying network cables and general enquiries.
We are committed to following the requirements and processes in the Code of Practice for Community Engagement developed by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF). Telecom was part of the TCF team that developed this code. The code sets out acceptable minima guide for the industry in the challenging field of community engagement.
In addition, to our community engagement commitments, where resource consents are required under the Resource Management Act 1991 we will also consult, as appropriate to the situation, with the affected persons and community for projects.
If you have concerns about any Telecom equipment, contact *123 from your telephone.