There are three ways in which resource consent applications can be processed – publicly notified, limited notified or non-notified.
Applications may be non-notified where the Council is satisfied that:
Most applications processed by the Council are non-notified.
The decision on a non-notified application is usually made by senior Council staff, although in some instances a Council Hearings Panel or Commissioner may make the decision.
The timeframe for processing a non-notified application is generally 20 working days. This is extended if additional information or written approvals need to be provided.
If the Council considers that the adverse effects of a proposal on the environment are likely to be more than minor, the application must be publicly notified. This can also be requested by the applicant.
A publicly notified application is advertised in the local newspapers and the Council also informs the affected parties. Anyone can lodge submissions supporting or opposing the application.
Where the adverse environmental effects are unlikely to be more than minor, but there are adverse effects on neighbours or other parties that are at least minor, and those persons have not given their written approval, an application must be processed on a limited notified basis. A limited notified application is not advertised in the newspapers, but the Council "serves notice" on any such affected persons. These are the only people who are allowed to make a submission on the application.
Generally, if there is any submitter who wishes to be heard, a public hearing is arranged to consider and decide the application. A hearing generally involves the applicant and any submitters stating their cases in front of an independent commissioner or panel. The Council officer involved will present a report and recommendation. The panel or commissioner make a decision on whether the application should be granted or declined. If no submissions are received, a hearing may not be needed.
Limited notified applications usually take around four months to process, while publicly notified applications take approximately six months. These timeframes are often shortened if a hearing is not required.
As an alternative to having a notified or limited notified application being considered by the Council, an applicant can request that their application instead be directly referred to the Environment Court for consideration and a decision.
The decision on whether an application is non-notified, limited notified or publicly notified is made by Council staff, based on criteria set out in the Resource Management Act. These include whether adverse effects are likely to be more than minor and whether all affected parties have given their written approval to the application.
Every application is different and each must be considered on its merits. However a Council officer will usually be able to give you preliminary advice on whether your application is likely to be notified and whether you should request written approval from affected persons. Formal identification of affected persons and a final decision on notification is made later once a complete application is lodged.