Resource Consent

It is sometimes necessary to obtain a resource consent under the Resource management Act 1991 (RMA). This applies when you want to do something that your district plan doesn't allow as of right. Or, in the case of a regional plan, the plan will tell you when you need to get a resource consent.

If you are thinking about buying some land, a business or a building, or you want to subdivide land, you might need to get a resource consent - so it's a good idea to talk to your local city or district council first. Council staff can help you look through the relevant plans and work out whether you'll need a resource consent. Resource consents are obtained from regional, district and city councils which, when carrying out this function, are known as consent authorities.

In some cases a resource consent decision may also be made by a board of inquiry or the Environment Court.

There are different types of resource consents - for example, land-use consents and water permits. The table below lists the different types of resource consents and the consent authorities responsible for issuing them, with examples of when resource consents might be required.

Consent types and the consent authorities responsible for issuing them

Consent Type Consent Authority Responsible Examples
Land-use consent Regional councils and/or district and city councils To erect a building.
To convert a garage in a residential neighbourhood into a shop.
To establish a rest home.
Subdivision consent District and city councils To divide a property into two or more new titles, using fee simple or unit title mechanisms.
Coastal permit Regional councils To build a wharf on the coast below the mean high water springs mark.
To discharge stormwater into coastal waters.
Row 2 col 1 content Regional councils To take water from a stream for an irrigation scheme.
To build a dam in the bed of a river.
Row 2 col 1 content Regional councils To discharge stormwater from a service station through a pipe directly into a lake.
To discharge exhaust fumes from a wood curing kiln into the air.

If you need to obtain a resource consent, then the consent authority (district/city or regional council) should also explain how to go about talking with people who might be affected by your project and preparing an assessment of environmental effects (AEE). Every application for a resource consent must include an assessment of environmental effects. An AEE identifies all the environmental effects, positive and negative, of a proposed activity, and ways in which any negative effects can be prevented or reduced.

The council can process your application for resource consent in one of three ways, depending on what the relevant plan says and the kind of activity you're proposing. The council may decide that the general public need not be involved; this is called a non-notified application. In fact, most resource consent applications fall into this category, which means that there is no submission or hearings process. But proposals are publicly notified if they will have or are likely to have an effect on the environment that is 'more than minor'. Alternatively, the council may decide there should be limited notification of your application. This means the council notifies only those people who it considers might be affected by what you're proposing. Council staff will tell you whether or not your application will be limited or publicly notified.

Anyone can make a submission on applications that have been publicly notified. (The only exception is if you're a trade competitor to someone else's business and you want to oppose their application only for trade or business reasons.) A public hearing is usually held to give applicants and submitters a chance to speak, and informal pre-hearing meetings may also be held. If you need consents from both a regional council and a district or city council, the two councils may decide to hear the applications together.

Councils are expected to process non-notified applications in roughly a month and notified applications in about four months.

You can help make sure your consent application is processed quickly by:

  • talking to council staff at an early stage regarding what you want to do;
  • talking to people who you or the council thinks might be affected by your proposal;
  • providing the council with a well-prepared assessment of environmental effects; and
  • responding quickly to requests for further information (the council can decline applications if there is insufficient information to consider).

Councils can decide to either grant or decline a resource consent. Some activities are 'controlled activities'. Applications to do these must be granted, except for a few exceptions. Even so, when granting consent, the council usually puts some conditions on it. The council will also probably check that what you are doing is in line with your resource consent. This could mean that a council officer will visit the site and take some measurements, or require you to monitor the activity. Councils also decide how long to grant resource consent for. Some consents (like subdivision) last forever, while others might last only for a couple of years (for example, a permit to take water from a river).

Councils will normally charge you an administration fee for considering your application, and they may also charge for ongoing monitoring. Costs range from council to council, but generally non-notified consents cost between $500 and $1200 and notified consents cost between $3000 and $10,000. From July 2010, if the council does not process an application on time and it is the council's fault, the council must refund part of the application fee.

If you're thinking about buying land or buildings, it's worth asking the local city or district council for a land information memorandum (LIM). This report will tell you what information the council has about that piece of land, including what the district plan allows the land to be used for. If you want official confirmation that an activity is allowed under the council's plan, you can ask the council for a certificate of compliance. A certificate of compliance can only be issued for a permitted activity.

Councils can also issue an existing use certificate when an activity doesn't meet a current district or regional plan rule, but was lawfully established before the rule came into force. If you are doing something that needs a building consent, before you start building, you can ask a council for a project information memorandum (PIM), which will tell you if you also need to apply for a resource consent.

So - if you are considering new construction on Mordor - talk to the team at Rennie Cox first, and ensure that your resource consent application is well-prepared.