Consent process

The consent process includes notification of consents, submission, hearings, and appeals.

The consent process includes notification of consents, submission, hearings, and appeals. These steps are further explained below:

1. Receive application

Once the application for Resource Consent has been received by the appropriate authority, the first step they will take in processing the application will be to make sure that the application has been filled out properly and that it is complete.

2. Enough information

The second step in processing an application is to make sure that it contains enough information. If an applicant has provided sufficient information the application will move to the next step. However, if the applicant has not provided sufficient information, the consent authority will make a request for additional information.

3. Decide to notify or not notify

Under the RMA, an applicant must have a statement in their consent application that identifies those people affected by the proposal and how they have been consulted. The consent application will also have an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). These two statements help the consent authority to determine whether a consent application needs to be notified.

There are three types of notification:

(1) No notification, (2) Limited notification, (3) Public notification

Deciding whether to notify or not notify a consent application is one of the most important decisions a consent authority will make during the processing of an application. Deciding whether to notify or not notify dictates the appropriate process that an application will take and the time it takes to process the application.

No notification

No notification is when the consent is not notified. This usually occurs when the effects are considered to be no more than minor and there are no parties affected. You cannot lodge a submission on a non-notified consent

Limited notification

Limited notification is when only those parties that are considered to be affected by the application get notified. Limited notification usually takes effect when the environmental effects are consider to be no more than minor, but the consent applicant has not obtained written approval from those parties that are considered to be affected. In this case the consent authority will serve a notice of the application on those affected. Only those people served with a notice of the application can lodge a submission to the application.

Public notification

Public notification is when the consent authority has to publicly notify the application for consent. Public notification usually takes effect when the effects are more widespread on the environment. Public notification involves the consent authority serving notices of the application on:

  • Owners and occupiers of the land
  • People considered adversely affected by the application
  • Local authorities
  • Iwi authorities.

The consent authority also has to place a notice in the local newspaper and/or on their website and may erect signage at the site giving notice.

4. Preparing a submission

After the application for consent has been notified, there is a 20-day period where submissions can be made on the application.

More information on making a submission

5. Pre-hearing

The consent authority may choose to hold a pre-hearing before the formal hearing. This usually involves the applicant, submitters, and other interested parties. Pre-hearings provide an opportunity for all parties to clarify and possibly resolve particular issues. In some instances, if all the issues are resolved at a pre-hearing, a formal hearing will not take place.

6. Hearing

The RMA does not require that a hearing be held in all instances. A hearing is only held when the consent authority considers it necessary or when the applicant or submitters request to be heard. A hearing must start no later than 25 workings days after the closing date for submissions. Hearings are a formal process, they must be public, and tikanga Māori must be recognised by the consent authority. During the hearing, cross-examination is not allowed and only the hearing committee may ask questions.

7. Decision made

If the consent application is notified and goes to hearing, the decision on the application is made by the hearing panel or committee. These decisions must be issued no later than 15 working days after the end of the hearing. If the application is non-notified, a sub-committee of staff from the consent authority makes the decision and these decision must be issued no later than 20 days after the application was lodged.

8. Decision and conditions issued

Upon issuing a consent application decision the consent authority may choose to impose a set of conditions on the consent. The purpose of consent conditions are to avoid, remedy, or mitigate any adverse effects associated with the activity in question. Conditions may include - carrying out environmental monitoring, paying a financial contribution, providing remedial works or services such as tree planting.

9. Appeal

If an applicant or submitter has an issue with the decision made by the consent authority, they can lodge an appeal to the Environment Court. An appeal must be lodged with the Registrar of the Environment Court (registries in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch) and a notice served on the consent authority in question within 15 working days of the decision being issued. During the Environment Court process they look at all the information afresh. Their decision is final unless new information comes to light and they decide to review their decision or an appeal has been made to the high court in question to the law.

10. Consent issued if granted