How to make an Appeal

This page explains the process for Appeals to the Environment Court

What is an Appeal? 

If you are dissatisfied with the decision on a resource consent you may lodge an appeal with the Environment Court.

The Environment Court is a court administered by the Justice Department and presided over by a Judge with expertise in planning and resource management issues. The Environment Court can over-ride the decisions of local authorities. 

Who can Appeal?

Either the applicant or a submitter may appeal the Council's decision.

The applicant may appeal if the consent was declined or if it was granted by there are conditions that they strongly disagree with.  A submitter may be inclined to appeal if they were in opposition but the consent was granted, or if there are conditions that they disagree with, or if there are other conditions that they seek.

There are no rights of appeal for deemed permitted boundary activities or subdivision and residential activities that comply with all rules.

If you are considering appealling a resource consent decision you should seek legal advice first because if appeals are found to be 'without substance' or otherwise cost the applicant or the Council money then costs may be payable. 

You should also carefully read the following information:

An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act Series 6.1: Your Guide to the Environment Court

An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act Series 6.2: You, Mediation and the Environment Court

An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act Series 6.3: The Environment Court: Awarding and Securing Costs

When can you Appeal?

If you wish to lodge an appeal to the Environment Court, you must lodge the notice of appeal with the Registrar of the Environment Court and serve notice to the Council within 15 working days of receiving the decision.

How to Appeal

The lodgement fee for lodging an appeal is currently $500.  The forms can be found at:

Environment Court of New Zealand: Forms

In most cases Form 16 is the appropriate one to use for appealing a resource consent decision. The notice must state the reasons for the appeal, and what you want done about it.

Within five working days of lodging the appeal with the Environment Court, you must also serve notice on the applicant and any person or organisation that originally made a submission on the matter.

The Registrar, The Environment Court, DX:SX11154, 49 Ballance Street, Wellington, New Zealand

Phone (04) 918 8300

Fax (04) 918 8480

What will happen after an Appeal is lodged?

The usual process that an appeal goes through is:

  1. Parties may join the proceedings as Section 274 parties.
  2. Court-assisted mediation is held (this may resolve the appeal).
  3. If mediation is not successful then a Court Hearing is scheduled. 
  4. A timetable for the exchange of evidence is also scheduled.
  5. Evidence is exchanged and the hearing is held.
  6. The Court releases its decision. The decision can only be appealed to the High Court on points of law.

Joining the Proceedings as a 'Section 274 Party'

Once an appeal is lodged with the Court other parties (mainly other submitters) are given an opportunity to join the proceedings.  This gives them the right to support the appeal in mediation or in Court.  Any parties who do not join will not be included in the Court proceedings.  Joining the proceedings is known as becoming a "274 party" as it is done under Section 274 of the Resource Management Act.

New Zealand Legislation: Resource Management Act Section 274

Court-assisted Mediation

Once any other parties have joined the Court will usually offer the parties a chance to participate in a 'Court-assisted mediation'.  Mediations are run by Court Commissioners and are an excellent and low cost way for parties to try and reach an agreement on things like conditions of consent.  Court-assisted medaitions are effective because:

  • The parties are in control (i.e. there is no obligation to reach an agreement if you do not like the outcome);
  • It provides a chance to have a mediated conversation between applicant and submitters;
  • The process is confidential and 'without prejudice' which means that people can put suggestions on the table to get a resolution but, if they are not accepted, these suggestions cannot be brought up latter.
  • The mediator will not be involved in a Court hearing (should the application go that far).
  • If all parties are satisfied with the outcome then a signed document can be produced which provides a binding outcome and avoiding the need to go to Court.
  • It is much cheaper than going to Court.  A lawyer is not necessary, although lawyers do commonly attend.  It may be helpful to have someone who is a good negotiator. 

Environment Court Hearing

An Environment Court hearing may hear the entire case again with a 'clean-slate'.  Alternatively the Court may just hear aspects of the case which are in contention. 

Environment Court Hearings are usually more formal than Council hearings.  For example, cross questioning is allowed between parties.