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The Transport Agency assesses all potential environmental effects (including air quality) of roading projects in accordance with the State highway environmental and social responsibility (ESR) standard. This follows a stage-wise assessment process:

The ESR screen consists of a simple checklist of questions and is the first level of assessment undertaken in a project’s life. The ESR screen is used in the preparation of the indicative business case. As the project progresses through the development of a detailed business case, the ESR screen is updated and may also need to be supplemented with results of additional information, for example outputs from the Transport Agency’s Air Quality Screening Model (for high risk projects) to form the preliminary technical assessment.

The updated ESR screen or preliminary technical assessment where relevant, is used to scope the level of detail required to support an assessment of environmental effects (AEE). Depending on the air quality risk posed by the project, the information provided in the screen or the findings of the preliminary technical assessment may be sufficient to support the AEE, however for projects which present more complex air quality issues such as large projects in urban areas a more comprehensive technical assessment will be needed. The AEE is required in the project consenting and pre-implementation phase.

The Transport Agency has released an updated draft guide for assessing the air quality impacts of state highway projects to replace the 2012 version. The philosophy of assessing effects based on risk and the tools to undertake air quality assessments has remained unchanged.

For further information contact environment@nzta.govt.nz.