Consultation can be a useful part of the resource consent process, depending on the scale and significance of the effects of your proposal, and the degree to which it infringes the controls of the relevant District or Regional Plan. Consultation usually occurs if a person or group may be adversely affected by a proposal and it should be undertaken prior to a resource consent application being lodged with the Council. It should be taken in an open and honest manner, with a real willingness to change a proposal. For this reason, its good to start consultation near the start of the development process, to get meaningful input from people before a project is too far advanced.
We are all affected to varying degrees by development and activities which occur around us, and therefore it can be helpful to consult with surrounding landowners and occupiers as well Mana Whenua groups and interest groups about what the implications might be. Consultation is essentially a process about providing information to interested or affected parties and discussing the application with them. It then allows those people and groups to comment on the proposal, and provide feedback. People often see consultation as negative, but it doesn’t need to be. It can be a very useful way of hearing other peoples ideas, and making good changes to a proposal.
A benefit of consultation is also that it allows for good relationship building with neighbours, the community and mana whenua groups. The process can enable other people to provide relevant information on a range of issues which you may not have been aware of. Consultation may also reduce concerns about a development and may make the resource consent process easier.
Environment Court case law has summarised the general principles which should apply to any consultation:
Fairness is paramount;
Adequate information of the proposal is to be given in a timely manner;
Those consulted must be given a reasonable opportunity to state their views;
Consultation must be conducted with an open mind;
Consultation is a two-way process.
However, while good practice, consultation is not required under the Resource Management Act and is different to obtaining the written approval of affected parties and notification; undertaking consultation alone doesn’t mean your application would be non-notified. If as a result of your consultation, people feel comfortable providing formal written approval to your development, then this is very helpful in terms of the processing of your resource consent application. Council’s usually have standard forms that people can fill in, and these are typically downloadable from their websites.
Need more information? Our friendly team will be happy to help, just email us or call us on 094279966.
Tracy is a Planner with an M.Sc. in Resource Management.
Tracy has worked assisting Senior Planners with the preparation and lodgement of resource consent applications, as well as planning. She also provided support in client liaison, contractor engagement and general communications.
Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s.