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Background information

Guide to key elements of the HSNO Act

The Methodology

The HSNO Act specified that a 'methodology' for processing applications was to be developed. ERMA New Zealand prepared a draft methodology, which was subject to public submissions before finalising the document (ERMA New Zealand 1998). The Methodology [] can be found on the EPA website. This document explains the nature of the information that applicants are responsible for supplying to the EPA:

"In making applications, applicants will be responsible for:

The 'methodology' also gives requirements for submitters:

"People making submissions on publicly notified applications have a responsibility to:

Also contained within The Methodology [] is an explanation of the decision paths that will be used by the Authority, information on Maori perspectives, the approach to risk, cost and benefit identification and assessment, and how the Authority will deal with uncertainty:

"29. Where the Authority encounters scientific and technical uncertainty relating to the potential adverse effects of a substance or organism, or where there is disputed scientific or technical information the Authority �
(a) Must determine the materiality and significance to the application of the uncertainty or dispute taking into account the extent of agreement on the scope and meaning of the scientific evidence; and
(b) May, where the uncertainty or dispute is material or significant, facilitate discussion between the parties concerned to clarify the uncertainty or dispute.

30. Where any scientific or technical uncertainty or dispute is not resolved to the Authority's satisfaction during its consideration of the application, the Authority must take into account the need for caution in managing the adverse effects of the substance or (to the extent provided for under the Act) the organism concerned.

31. Where the Authority considers that uncertainty arises from an absence of information, or inconclusive or contradictory information, or information from an unreliable source, the Authority may request the applicant to provide further information in accordance with section 58 of the Act and must take full account of any additional information provided.

32. Where the Authority considers there is uncertainty in relation to costs, benefits, and risks (including, where applicable, the scope for managing those risks), the Authority must attempt to establish the range of uncertainty and must take into account the probability of the costs, benefits, and risks being either more or less than the levels presented in evidence. (Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Methodology) Order 1998)."


ERMA New Zealand (1998). Annotated methodology for the consideration of applications for hazardous substances and new organisms under the HSNO Act 1996. ERMA New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand. 28 pp.