Consent application process

Resource consent process overview

This diagram from The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) provides an overview of the process that all councils use to process resource consent applications.

MfE also provide a series of publications under the title of "An Everyday Guide to the RMA" which provide straightforward explanations of how the process works, along with guidance for applicants.

Diagram displaying resource application process. (Source MfE).

Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Making an application

To make an application for resource consent you must:

  • complete an application form; and
  • include an assessment of environmental effects (AEE) for the activity you are proposing to undertake; and
  • pay a minimum initial fee.
Information icon. It's important that you provide the council with a complete and well-prepared AEE, otherwise your application may not be accepted.

Assessment of environmental effects

Every activity has some effect on the environment. These effects can be positive or negative. An AEE describes all the environmental effects of a proposed activity, and the ways that any negative effects are to be mitigated (reduced). The amount of information you need to include in the AEE will depend on how significant the environmental effects of your activity will be.

An AEE must be completed in accordance with requirements of Schedule 4 of the Resource Management Act.  As a minimum, your AEE must include the following:

  • description of the proposal
  • description of the site and locality
  • site plan that is drawn to scale
  • description of the possible environmental effects of the activity
  • description of effects on tangata whenua and their taonga
  • description of ways in which adverse environmental effects can be avoided, remedied or mitigated
  • names of people affected, including tāngata whenua, by the proposal
  • record of any consultation you’ve undertaken, including with affected parties (if any)
  • discussion of any monitoring of environmental effects that might be required
  • any relevant objectives, policies, or rules in the Regional Plans
  • any relevant objectives and policies in an Iwi/Hapu Environmental Management Plan that covers the location of your application.

The Ministry for the Environment has developed the following publication which may be useful to assist you in preparing your AEE.

A Guide to Preparing a Basic Assessment of Environmental Effects.

Please note that the Resource Management Act does not require any person, including applicants and the council, to consult with anyone. It is however best practice to do so and will allow council to make a more informed decision. The Ministry for the Environment also have an easy to read and very informative brochure on consultation that provides guidance on how to consult with other parties, including tāngata whenua.

An Everyday guide: Consultation for resource consent applicants

Remember that any activity needing a resource consent will have some environmental effects. The council won’t accept an AEE that says there are no environmental effects from the activity.

Council has a standard application form and AEE forms for a selection of common activities that are available for use to make your application. Find the forms and fees for making your application.

If your activity is not covered by one of these standard AEE forms, then you will need to complete a separate AEE at a level that corresponds with the scale and significance of the effects that the activity may have on the environment. Depending on the scale of the activity, you may wish to get help from an expert to prepare your application.  

Renewal of consents

If you are applying to renew a resource consent, then you are still required to complete the standard application form and include an assessment of environmental effects (AEE). The only difference is that if nothing has changed in the activity you are applying for, then you don’t need to provide the following details, as the council will have them:

  • description of the proposal
  • description of the site and locality
  • site plan that is drawn to scale

Assessing effects on tāngata whenua 

The Proposed Regional Plan requires that resource consent applications must include in its AEE an assessment of the effects on tāngata whenua and their taonga if one or more of the following is likely:

  1. adverse effects on mahinga kai or access to mahinga kai, or
  2. any damage, destruction or loss of access to wāhi tapu, sites of customary value and other ancestral sites and taonga with which Māori have a special relationship, or
  3. adverse effects on indigenous biodiversity in the beds of waterbodies or the coastal marine area where it impacts on the ability of tangata whenua to carry out cultural and traditional activities, or
  4. adverse effects on tāiapure, mataitai or Māori non-commercial fisheries, or
  5. adverse effects on protected customary rights, or
  6. adverse effects on sites and areas of significance to tangata whenua mapped in the Regional Plan (refer I Maps |Ngā mahere matawhenua).

Definitions

Tāngata whenua: The RMA definition of tāngata whenua is “in relation to a particular area, means the iwi, or hapū, that holds mana whenua over that area”. For an analysis of effects the appropriate iwi or hapū will need to be identified. Council officers will be available to assist with this.

Taonga: An analysis of effects on tāngata whenua and their taonga may be necessary in circumstances not outlined in this policy – it will depend on the circumstances.

Mahinga kai: Food and places for obtaining natural foods and resources. The work (mahi), methods and cultural activities involved in obtaining foods and resources. This includes, for instance, kai awa (river food) kai repo (swamp food) and kaimoana (sea food). 

Special relationship: This includes, for instance, impacts on the quality of water used for ceremonial purposes.

Traditional activities: This includes, for instance, use of rongoa (medicinal) plants, and uses for raranga (weaving).

Non-commercial activities: Māori non-commercial fisheries are defined in the Fisheries Act 1996.

Protected customary rights: As defined by the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

If your activity is likely to result in one or more of the above, then the Proposed Regional Plan provides details of what must be included in your assessment of effects on tangata whenua and should be referred to. These assessments are often referred to as a "Cultural Impact Assessment" or a CIA.

The best way to find out what the effects of your proposal may be on tāngata whenua is to contact local iwi/hapu groups (who represent tāngata whenua) and discuss your proposal with them. Council consents staff can provide a list of contact details for local iwi/hapu groups in the area of your proposal. You can then send a copy of your proposal to these groups and seek feedback from them.

If the local iwi/hapu group has an Environmental Management Plan that has been formally received by council, then you should assess your application against the relevant objectives and policies in this plan. Council consents staff can also provide copies of relevant Iwi/Hapu Environmental Management Plans held by council.

If there is a Claims Settlement Act that covers the area of your application, then you will also need to assess the adverse effects of your activity on any “Statutory Acknowledgement Areas”. The council can provide information on relevant statutory acknowledgement areas on request.

It is important to remember that consultation does not require reaching an agreement – it is to allow you and the council to be informed about the views of tāngata whenua. If there are concerns that cannot be resolved and you still want to go ahead with your application, you must have made a genuine attempt to consult with tāngata whenua in an open and honest manner. Their views must be recorded so they can be taken into account by the council when considering your resource consent application.

Information icon. While a “fee” may be required of you before consultation takes place, you are under no legal obligation to meet these expenses. However, there may be circumstances where you could benefit by contracting the services of tāngata whenua in a similar way to those of, for example, an environmental consultant.

The council does not get involved in negotiations between a consent applicant and tāngata whenua.

Applications for activities within the Coastal Marine Area (CMA)

Prior to lodging an application with the council to undertake any activity in the coastal marine area (CMA), the applicant is required under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 to circulate a copy of the application to all applicants who have applied for customary marine title in that location and seek their view on the application.

The council cannot legally accept an application to undertake an activity in the CMA unless the applicant provides evidence of this circulation occurring. A response from customary marine title applicants is not required by council.

To ensure you meet the above requirement, you are advised to contact council consents staff to get a list of all the current applicants within the area where you are proposing to apply for a consent.

Information on customary marine titles is available on the Ministry of Justice/Marine and Coastal Area Applications website.

Fees

When you apply for a resource consent you will need to pay a minimum initial fee. If the costs of processing the application are greater than the initial fee, then you will be required to pay the additional reasonable costs of processing your application.  Please contact council consents staff if you need assistance with determining the correct minimum initial fee.

You can pay this minimum initial fee on-line.  If you do not have a customer or an invoice number, please use the applicant's name for a reference.

Schedule of Minimum Estimated Initial Fee information

Monitoring of your consent

Once you receive your resource consent, please read it carefully. A resource consent is a legal document. It is the consent holder’s responsibility to meet the conditions of the consent. If a consent holder does not meet the conditions, enforcement action may be undertaken.

If you have a consent to take water, you will be required to record the volume of water taken. The council has an electronic template document for you to use to provide these records to council.

Water Use Returns - templates and information

Annual user charges

Holders of resource consents will in most cases be required to pay a Minimum Annual Charge for administration of the consent. There is also likely to be additional annual charges for the monitoring of the consent, which will be dependent on the type of activity. These charges are detailed in the Annual Charges section of the council’s User Fees and Charges Policy.