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Resource Consent Process

The length of time the Resource Consent process will take depends on a number of factors. On this page there is information on timings, what might be involved during the process, the way in which decisions are advised, and what your options might be should you disagree with a decision.

Once your application has been formally received, you will receive a letter of acknowledgement. The application will then be allocated to an Environmental Consents Planner who will manage the process.

A decision on whether your application has to be notified is made within 20 working days of receipt of the application (minus days awaiting further information/written approvals).

Your proposal will be given a comprehensive review and checked against the District Plan. This will identify any other areas for which consent is required.

A site visit will be undertaken, the planner will check to see if anyone is potentially adversely affected by the proposal, and will determine if additional information is required.

If the planner decides further written approvals or information is needed, this will be requested in writing. While affected party approval is being obtained or further information sought the processing time ‘clock’ is stopped.

Once the Planner has received all necessary information, a report on your application will be prepared. The report will include recommendations on whether Council should grant a Resource Consent, and what conditions should be placed on it.

Sometimes Council will have to "notify" your application so it can hear other people’s views. An application can be notified to the public generally or it can only notified to those people Council thinks are adversely affected by the proposal (limited notification). See the Notified and Non-notified consents page for information on the differences between notified and non-notified consents.

An application may not have to be notified if Council is satisfied that any adverse effects are minor and either there are no persons affected by the proposal or the written approval of all affected parties has been obtained.

Council hearing

A hearing is a public meeting where a panel or a commissioner hears evidence for and against your application, and decides whether to approve it. Only you (and your experts), people who have made a submission (and their experts), and the council reporting planner, are allowed to speak at the hearing. You will have the chance to comment on an officer’s report about your application and on any submissions that have been made.

Does a Resource Consent expire?

Consent holders have five years to complete the work associated with the consent. If the approved works are not completed within that timeframe, the consent lapses. Once the works are completed the consent lasts for an unlimited period unless a specified period is stated in the consent.

Can you apply for an extension of time on the Resource Consent? Yes, if the works are not completed within the five years, a time extension may be considered and fixed by Council.  The application for an extension and decision must be made before the consent lapses.   The Resource Management Act (section 125) sets out the matters Council has to consider when deciding on an application for an extension.

The decision

You will receive a letter advising you of the decision on your application.

Often, when a Resource Consent is granted, it is subject to conditions. For example, landscaping may be required. If you decide to go ahead with the proposal you must comply on an on-going basis with any conditions.

Council will undertake monitoring, including a site inspection, to make sure you comply with the conditions of your Resource Consent. You may be charged for any monitoring that is necessary.

You can challenge the decision on your application or particular conditions of consent if you are not satisfied with them.  An appeal to a decision on a publicly notified or limited notified application must be made to the Environment Court. For a non-notified application (or a publicly notified or limited notified application where there were no submitters) you can lodge an objection with Council in most cases.  If you want to object to a decision or to appeal it to the Environment Court this must be done within three weeks of the decision being made.  Decisions made by Council include detailed information on the rights of appeal.

The Resource Consent is approved or declined

You’ll get a letter in the mail telling you whether your application has been approved or declined. The time taken to inform you will depend on whether the application was notified and whether there was a hearing.

If Resource Consent is approved

Your Resource Consent will tell you:

  • What conditions Council has put on the way you may carry out the activity; these conditions will be aimed at reducing the environmental effects of the activity
  • Whether your Resource Consent has an expiry date and, if so, what it is. Some Resource Consents last forever while others have a limited life. You have to apply to Council at least six months before the expiry date if you want to apply to extend it.

With notified consents you generally have to wait until an appeal period of 15 working days has passed before you start work on the activity. This gives people time to lodge an appeal with the Environment Court if they still oppose your application. The Resource Consent is not officially issued until any appeals have been resolved. If there are no appeals, you can start work at the end of the appeals period. Bear in mind that only one per cent of all decisions are appealed.

Once a Resource Consent has been issued, in most cases you need to make significant progress on your activity within a certain timeframe, or else it will lapse and you will need to apply again. Unless specified otherwise in the Resource Consent, the consent will lapse after five years. Make sure you understand what applies in your case.

If Resource Consent is declined

If you think Council’s decision to decline the consent is unfair, you may be able to formally object to Council (depending on the circumstances), or you can lodge an appeal with the Environment Court. You have to make your objection or appeal in writing within 15 working days of receiving Council’s decision. You can also object or appeal against particular conditions of a Resource Consent.

If you formally object to Council, you may be invited to a meeting of councillors and officers where you can explain your objections. If you appeal to the Environment Court, judges and commissioners will review the case and confirm or overturn Council’s decision.

Get professional advice before you lodge an appeal. It can be expensive and time-consuming and you might not win. A lawyer or other resource management professional should be able to tell you whether your appeal is likely to be successful.

Can the conditions ever change?

Council has the right to review the conditions in your Resource Consent but only under certain circumstances. In some cases a council might also include a specific condition on the approval providing for the review of conditions at set times.

You can also apply to the council to change or cancel any condition (except the duration) at any time. You need to outline your reasons and the changes proposed. Council will be concerned about any additional effects and the effect on affected persons, including whether any new persons are affected (compared with when the consent was initially granted).

Can I transfer the Resource Consent?

Whether a Resource Consent can be transferred depends on the type of consent. Any consent to do something on the land (called a land use consent) is attached to the land and transfers to any new owner when you sell the land.

Other types of consent (for example, a consent to take water) are able to be transferred with the land to any new owner. Whether this applies depends on what the consent, and sometimes what the District Plan, says. It is not automatic. If you are not sure about whether your consent can be transferred, contact Council staff for clarification; phone 871 5000.

You can also give up (surrender) your Resource Consent. This will mean that you no longer have the right to do the activity and therefore you no longer have to pay any monitoring or supervision charges to the council.

Doing everything properly at the start can save a lot of time, money and possible misunderstandings later on. Treat your application as the start of your project, not an obstacle to be dealt with at the last minute.


To make an appointment to discuss your project, Contact Council and speak with the environment consents planning team.


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