Notified Consents and Hearings

Council decides which of the following three 'processing pathways' an application will take; this depends on the effects that the proposal will have (1) on the environment and (2) on other people.  The three pathways are:

  1. Non-Notified - no members of the public are involved, or the written approval of all affected persons has been given. (Most consents are non-notified.)  A Non-Notified consent can sometimes be Fast-Tracked, if it meets several criteria.
  2. Limited Notification - submissions are invited just from persons who are affected.
  3. Publicly Notified - the proposal is advertised and submissions are invited from the public.

What does it mean when an application is "Notified"?

The council will decide whether or not to "notify" your application based on what a national environmental standard or the plan says, and the classification (activity status), scale and effects of the activity.

Publicly Notified Consents

Your application will generally be publicly notified if the council considers that the effects on the environment will be or are likely to be more than minor. The council must publicly notify your application if you request it to do so or if there are other rules or national environmental standards requiring it to be publicly notified.  Public notification means that the council advertises the application in the newspaper and calls for written statements (submissions) from the general public. The council also sends copies of your application to all the people it thinks might be affected by the activity.

Anyone can make a submission about a publicly notified application.

Limited Notification Consents

In some cases, the council may choose limited notification. This occurs when council decides your application does have adverse effects (whether minor or more than minor) for certain affected persons, but you haven’t got written approval from all of them.  If a person gives written approval, they are no longer considered an ‘affected person’.  The council will send notice of your application to all affected persons, along with details of how they can make a submission. If subject to limited notification, the application is not advertised in the newspaper.

Submissions on applications subject to limited notification can be made only by the affected persons.  Whether notification is public or limited, the applicant’s trade competitors are unable to make submissions unless they are directly affected by an environmental effect of a proposed activity and their submission relates to those effects.  

People making submissions can suggest conditions for the resource consent.

When does a Notified Consent have a Hearing?

Generally, a hearing is only necessary if:

  1. a Resource Consent application has been either limited-notified or publicly-notified, and
  2. submissions have been made on the application, and
  3. one or more of the submitters asks to be heard.

A hearing must take place within 25 working days after submissions close, unless the time limit has been formally extended by the Council.

However, a hearing may also take place if the Tasman District Council thinks it is necessary due to particular circumstances.

Resource Consent applicants should be aware that there can be significant costs involved in hearings.  The Council planner must prepare a staff report and this may involve using other staff experts or bringing in expertise where necessary.  Hearings also take time to organise and the staff and decision-makers attending will charge their time.  The applicant will be responsible for these costs.

On the other hand, while it is a good idea to avoid going to a hearing if you can, it is often a good way to resolve a matter and get a decision.  You should just be aware that there will be additional costs.

Direct Referral to the Environment Court

An applicant can also seek permission from the Council for the application to be heard by the Environment Court rather than by the Council. This may streamline the resource consent process by not requiring both a Council hearing and an Environment Court hearing. 

The applicant must make the request to the Council within five working days of the date on which the period for submissions on the application closes.

Before the Hearing

All submitters who have asked to be heard, and the applicant, will be given at least 10 working days notice of the hearing date, time and place. 

Planner's Report

A Tasman District Council planner's report will be prepared and will usually include:

  • a brief context of the application;
  • the main issues of contention
  • the planner's professional assessment of these issues;
  • the planner's professional recommendation as to whether the application should be granted or declined.
  • any recommended conditions (if the committee should grants the consent)

This planner's report is sent to the applicant and to all submitters who wish to be heard, at least five working days before the hearing.

Pre-Hearing Meeting

Tasman District Council may arrange a pre-hearing meeting so that submitters and the applicant can talk about and clarify issues.  These meetings are held soon after submissions close, usually in the evening at a place close to the area affected, to make it easier for everyone to attend.  They are informal and the issues raised in submissions can sometimes be resolved at a pre-hearing meeting, avoiding the need for a formal hearing.

If you think a pre-hearing meeting would be useful in your case, please advise the Tasman District Council consent planner who is responsible for the application.  The Council can often supply a meeting room and a chairperson or mediator.

 

At the Hearing

All hearings are open to the public, including the media (unless it is necessary to protect sensitive information). However, the only people who can speak are the applicant, submitters, Tasman District Council staff, and the hearing committee members. Applicants and submitters can bring expert witnesses to help them present their views.

The Hearing Committee

The hearing committee is usually made up of three Tasman District councillors.

One or more independent commissioners may be used instead.  Commissioners may be used when:

  • Tasman District Council assets are involved;
  • Technical or specialised knowledge is desirable or required;
  • When requested either by the applicant or a submitter. Such requests must be made within five days of the closing date for submissions.  Submitters must also be aware that if they request a commissioner they may have to pay some of the the extra costs incurred as a result.

Making decisions on resource consents applications that go to a hearing is a big job with a lot of responsibility.

After the Hearing

Tasman District Council sends out a written decision with consent conditions (if the consent was granted).  You should expect to receive the decision within 15 working days after the hearing is closed.  However the time may be longer if the applicaton was complicated or there were other matters that cropped up.

You should read the entire decision carefully, particularly the conditions if the consent was granted.  There may be conditions that the committee has imposed which are very important.

If you disagree with any part or all of a decision on a resource consent, including any of the conditions imposed, you can appeal to the Environment Court.

Further Information

There is lots of advice available on appearing at resource consent hearings.  We strongly recommend you read one (or both) of these guides:

Guide to Appearing at a Tasman District Council Resource Consent Hearing (pdf, 130 KB)

An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act Series 3.3: Appearing at a Council Resource Consent Hearing