The Process From Application To Decision

The flowchart on the Ministry for the Environment website sets out an overview of the steps we take to process a resource consent.

Assessing your application
After you send your application to us, our staff will assess it.

Completeness
The first thing we look at is whether your application has provided all of the necessary information. If details are missing, plans are not included, or your application is not accompanied by a deposit, it will be returned to you with a letter explaining what is missing.  

Acceptance
When a complete application is received, we will confirm acceptance of your application in writing and provide a reference number for your records. Your application will be given to one of our planners for processing.

Assessment
Our planner will assess your application. They may have questions about your application and will send you a further information request to ask for that information.

We may decide to commission a report on some aspect of your application.  You will be notified before the report is commissioned and you may agree or refuse to have the report done. If you refuse, we will continue assessing your application.

Our planner will also inspect the site and prepare a report that recommends:
* Whether or not the application should be processed non-notified or notified (either full public notification or limited notification)
* Whether or not the application should be approved.

For notified applications:
* A pre-hearing meeting may be held at the request of the applicant or submitters or if we decide to hold a pre-hearing meeting
* A further information request may be made after the closing date for submissions.

Notified applications
Almost all resource consent applications are able to be processed without the need to notify members of the public. We generally don’t notify applications when the environmental effects of the activity will be minor and all affected people have given their written approval.

If we decide not to notify your application, we won’t advertise it or call for submissions. Our decision will be based on the application alone.

However, sometimes we decide that a proposal is likely to have a broader effect on the environment. We then consider whether to:
* notify those people who may be directly affected (limited notification), or
* notify the public generally (public notification).

If your application is notified, then people are able to make a submission on your application and become involved in the hearing of your application.

Current notified applications
Consent applications that are currently open for submission are listed in the public notices section.

What is limited notification?
If the effects of your proposal are minor or more than minor and you have not obtained written approval from everyone who is likely to be affected, we may notify those people.

They can make a submission supporting or opposing your application within 20 working days.

What is public notification?

If we determine that the effects of your proposal are more than minor, we may decide to publicly notify your application.

A public notice will appear in newspapers and, for some parts of the region, online. We will also directly notify adversely affected people and people we are required to notify under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Anyone can make a submission supporting or opposing your application within 20 working days.

What happens if your application receives a submission?
We encourage applicants and submitters to communicate directly to discuss any concerns and identify ways in which those concerns can be addressed.

If those concerns cannot be resolved, we may arrange a pre-hearing meeting or refer the parties to mediation. This is an opportunity to clarify and potentially resolve any concerns.

If that doesn't succeed, a public hearing will be held to decide on your application.

Hearings
Hearings are formal meetings where hearing commissioners consider your application, listen to any evidence for and against your application, listen to any submissions made and then make a decision on your application.

Before the hearing
* All parties will receive notice of the date, time and venue for the hearing at least 10 working days in advance
* Our planner's report and recommendations will be sent to you and to all submitters who indicated that they wished to speak about their submissions a minimum of 5 working days before the hearing.

At the hearing
* You, or your representatives, present your application and call any experts to provide evidence in support of your application
* Submitters who indicated they wish to be heard at the hearing have an opportunity to present their submission. They can call experts or representatives to provide evidence in relation to their submission
* You then have a right of reply to any issues raised by the submitters
* After your reply the chairperson closes the public part of the hearing.

Any member of the public can attend a hearing, however the only people who can speak at the hearing are:
* The hearings commissioners
* You and your witnesses
* Council staff
* Submitters and supporting witnesses.

If someone has not lodged a submission they have no speaking rights.

You and anyone else who speaks or presents evidence at the hearing cannot raise issues that are beyond the scope of your application or any submission.

After the hearing
* Following the public part of the hearing, the hearing commissioners consider all information supplied by you, any submitters and council staff, including all written submissions, even if they were not presented at the hearing
* Hearings commissioners decide whether or not to grant a consent and consider any conditions that may be applied
* Unless the timeframe is extended, you and everyone involved will be notified of the hearings commissioners' decision in writing within 15 working days. The letter will state the reasons for their decision.

Appealing the decision
If you or a submitter disagrees with the decision, you may appeal the decision to the Environment Court within 15 working days of receiving notice of the decision.

If you decide to do that, we recommend that you seek independent professional advice to fully understand the processes, implications and costs involved.

Environment Court

Who can appeal?
* The applicant or consent holder
* Anyone who made a submission.

Timeframe
You must lodge your appeal to the Environment Court within 15 working days of receipt of the decision. A copy of the lodgement notice must also be sent to us within 15 workings days of the decision.

Appeal process
Your appeal must be on the prescribed form and be accompanied by a filing fee. To find out more please visit the Environment Court website.

Objecting to the council
Under section 357A of the Resource Management Act you are able to object to council about your consent condition.

You are able to object if:
* Your application was not publicly notified
* Your application was publicly notified or served on your immediate neighbour/s and no submissions were received, or if there were submissions, they have since been withdrawn.

You can also object under section 357B of the Resource Management Act if we ask you to pay additional processing charges or costs after the decision has been made.

Timeframe
You need to send your objection to us in writing within 15 working days from the date you received the decision. In your objection, you should include the reasons for the objection.

Objection process
* We will consider the objection as soon as practicable and within 20 working days.
* A planner will review the objection and seek to settle the objection through informal discussion. Where resolution cannot be reached, the planner will prepare a report on your objection, summarising the matters that you have raised and provide a recommendation.
* A hearing will be held to consider the objection and we may appoint hearing commissioners to determine the objection.
* You will be provided a copy of the planners report and at least five working days notice of the date, time and place of the hearing.
* The objection may be dismissed or upheld in whole or part. You will be given a decision in writing within 15 working days of the hearing.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision on your objection, you may appeal to the Environment Court within 15 working days of the date you received the objection decision.

Conditions and Monitoring
If you are granted a resource consent, the consent most likely will be subject to conditions. Those conditions may require you to do things within a certain timeframe, advise us when steps have been taken or to have an aspect of your activity signed off by a council staff member. The conditions may also place limits on what you are able to do.

It is our responsibility to monitor resource consents to ensure that conditions are being complied with.

Who monitors resource consents?
Monitoring resource consents may involve:
* Routine inspections by our monitoring inspectors
* The consent holder carrying out their own monitoring as a condition of their resource consent
* Inspections by consultants appointed by the council.

Different consents require different monitoring
Each resource consent calls for different skills and technical knowledge, as well as a different monitoring strategy.
For example, a subdivision consent will typically involve two specific monitoring stages:
* Land development stage, and
* Completion of works (when checking will occur to make sure new sections are fully serviced with water and sewer connections, and so on).

A land use consent may require longer-term monitoring, such as sampling or the implementation of technical procedures by skilled professionals to avoid, lessen or remedy any environmental effects.

Fees for monitoring
Fees for resource consent monitoring are charged at an hourly rate.

What happens if conditions aren't met?
Various actions may be taken by us if the conditions of a resource consent aren't being met. Depending on the circumstances, these include issuing:
* An abatement notice - this is essentially an official warning that the Resource Management Act is being contravened
* An enforcement order - court-backed order demanding compliance
* An instant fine.

Severe breaches of the conditions of a resource consent can result in prosecution and a fine imposed by the courts.

 

Information on this page has been sourced from Auckland City Council.