Complaints relate to events and environmental problems or perceived problems and can be useful for management purposes. Monitoring complaints can also provide useful information at the corporate level - for functions right across council.
Complaints may relate to activities that have resource consent but they may also relate to permitted activities and may indicate situations where consents may be required in future to better address adverse effects created by permitted activities.
The majority of councils in New Zealand keep a register of complaints (as reported in the RMA Survey of Local Authorities, by the Ministry for the Environment).
Complaints monitoring can help fill gaps in knowledge and information about the quality of the environment and community attitudes.
Over time it may be possible to use complaints monitoring to help develop trend data and add value to state of the environment reporting. This relies on having an integrated approach to monitoring and reporting within councils and with other agencies.