As of December 2014, following comprehensive legal review by Simpson Grierson, this module has been significantly rewritten and updated to reflect legislative changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 since 2009 and to align with existing Resource Management Act commentary.
The most recent 2013 Amendment Act has introduced a number of changes to the Resource Consent process. These key components are:
- new and clearer information requirements for all resource consent applications
- clearer criteria for accepting complete application
- an increased time limit for deciding whether to accept the application
- changes to the level of information that can be adopted in council officer reporting
- a new six month timeframe for decision making on resource consent applications that are Notified and Limited Notified
- changes to the direct referral process
Many of the changes to the Resource Consent process under the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 did not come into effect immediately following Royal Assent. This is particularly of relevance to the new provisions that determine the timeframe for decision making on Fully and Limited Notified Applications for Resource Consent and changes under Section 88 and to Schedule 4. However please note that all remaining provisions have now taken effect as of 3 March 2015.
Please note that much of the explanatory notes recognise for and alert the reader to these changes.
Readers are advised of further guidance material for the six month decision making process for Fully and Limited Notified Applications and Section 88 and Schedule 4 changes on the Ministry for the Environment webpage to assist understanding and implementation of the amendments that took effect on 3 March 2015.
A useful guidance tool is also the New Zealand Planning Institute Quality Planning website. This website provides detailed information about all Resource Management Act processes. As a tool it has assisted review of this module.
Resource Consents of National Significance
Councils are advised to visit the Environmental Protection Agency website to fully understand the process for resource consents of National Significance. Flow Diagrams within this module do not outline EPA processes. Below is a brief overview.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages the decision making process for proposals of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991.
With respect to the Resource Consent process, any person may lodge Applications for Resource Consent and changes or cancellation of consent conditions. This includes councils who may request the Minister for the Environment to call in specific Applications considered of National Significance.
The EPA has 20 working days to make a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment once 'the matter' is received. The matter is assessed for completeness and a recommendation is provided to the Minister about whether the matter is a proposal of National Significance and whether the matter should be referred to a Board of Inquiry or to the Environment Court.
Part 6AA of the Resource Management Act 1991 contains detail around what matters can be lodged with the EPA, powers for the EPA to request further information and commission reports and timeframes for the EPA to make its recommendation to the Minister.Based on these recommendations the Minister determines whether a proposal is of national significance and directs it either to a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court. The Minister may refer an Application to a Local Authority if it is not considered to be of National Significance.
Part 6AA gives examples of the factors that the Minister may consider when determining the 'national significance' of a matter, and processes following the Minister's direction on whether to refer a matter to a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court.
If the Minister directs a matter to a Board of Inquiry, Sections 149J-149S of the Resource Management Act 1991 set out how a Board is appointed, its power, functions and responsibilities in making a decision on the matter.
Sections 149T-149U of the Resource Management Act 1991 govern the decision making process where a matter is referred to the Environment Court. Section 149V of the Resource Management Act 1991 sets out how the final decision of a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court can be appealed.
Role of Councils with respect to proposals of National Significance
When matters are lodged directly with the EPA or councils request matters to be called in, the EPA work with the relevant council to ensure that the Council's views on the direction are presented to the Minister. The EPA draw on the expert knowledge of the Council, especially in relation to council planning documents and the potential local impacts of a proposal.
If the Minister decides to refer a matter to a Board of Inquiry, councils will have the opportunity to suggest persons for appointment to the Board. The Minister will make the final decision on board membership but he/she will consider the Council's suggestions and also the need for the Board to have local knowledge.
If the Minister refers a matter to a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court, the EPA must commission a report from the relevant council. That report must summarise the planning framework and will be considered by the Board or Environment Court and made available to all parties.
Councils will have general responsibility for administering and monitoring compliance with any approvals given by Boards of Inquiry or the Environment Court.
Setting charges for the processing and monitoring of Resource Consents and the extension of processing timeframes in certain circumstances.
Section 36 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) enables councils to charge Applicants for receiving, processing and granting consents; and consent holders for administering, monitoring and supervising consents. Section 37 provides council with the ability to extend processing timeframes.
Flow Diagrams within this module do not cover aspects relating to charging as this is specific to each council based on the decisions made with respect to charging regimes nor do they cover the extension of timeframes under Section 37. The payment of fees, councils ability to halt a process whilst awaiting payment of fees and the related ability to extend timeframes under Section 37 will need to be considered, e.g in the processes around decisions to notify, public and limited notification and hearings.
Flow Diagrams within this module:
- Receipt of Resource Consent Application and Further Information Requests
- Decision to Notify
- Decision to Limited Notify or Non Notify
- Public Notification
- Limited Notification
- Acceptance of Submissions
- Request for Direct Referral
- Pre-Hearing meetings and Mediation
- Decision to Undertake Hearing
- Issuing of Decisions
- Objection to the Decision of Council
- Appeals Against the Decision of the Council
- Consent Compliance and Monitoring
- Approval of Subdivision Plans
- Issuing of a Section 226(1)(e) Certificate
- Commissioning of a Section 92(2) Report