The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) carried out for the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme in 2008 was one of the first stand-alone project-level HIAs (ie, within the context of the Resource Management Act 1991) in New Zealand, and it received a critical reception.
This paper describes useful lessons learnt from an evaluation of this HIA and makes recommendations for future practice.
The paper identifies that the HIA process supports provision of advice on projects that have the potential to affect the health of individuals or groups in the community. An HIA can be conducted on a project as a stand-alone study alongside, and in collaboration with, other related studies, and incorporated into the Assessment of Environmental Effects for the project. In other situations a stand-alone HIA may not be required, but the health issues should still be given due recognition throughout the Assessment of Environmental Effects process.
To achieve a greater consideration of health within the Assessment of Environmental Effects process, the paper suggests:
- providing courses on the health impacts of projects for environmental and social consultants and council consent staff
- encouraging the growth of a group of health impact specialists able to work within the Resource Management Act context
- modifying current HIA methods and approaches for use in the Resource Management Act context.