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Making a Submission under the RMA

Making a submission can seem daunting and is definitely at the more “business side” of the resource consent process.

You shouldn’t however let that stop you from continuing to be involved in the process, and making a submission, if you have a real concern and will be affected by the development. It is a good opportunity however for you to sit back and think objectively about what’s proposed, what the effects will be and how you will be affected.

Take the opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the proposal, expert assessments and the Regional and District Plan provisions. Its often a good time to speak to your specialists again or engage them if you haven’t to date.

When can I make a submission?

In relation to a resource consent application, you can make a submission on a (fully) notified resource consent application or a limited notified application. A limited notified resource consent application is one where specific parties have been identified as adversely affected; you can only make a submission if you’re one of those parties.

What is a submission?

A submission is a formal document relating to a notified resource consent application. It contains information on:

  • your name and address,

  • the project you’re submitting on, its address and the applicants name,

  • any errors you think are present in the application or issues which aren’t covered in enough detail,

  • what you support and what you oppose about the resource consent application,

  • what decision you want the Council to make, including any specific conditions you think may be needed,

  • if you want to be heard (at the Council hearing) in relation to your submission.

Usually the Council will have a standard form you can fill out. You can also attach any extra submission pages or supporting evidence.

Remember that at the Council hearing you can only speak about the matters you’ve raised in your submission, so you need to make sure it covers all your concerns.

Tips on writing a submission

Your submission should be clear and concise and provide comments in an RMA context. Make a plan first of what you want to discuss and how. Typing the submission is always good- it gives you the opportunity to amend the submission before you formally submit it.

  • include any personal feelings you have about the applicant,

  • refer to previous applications made by the applicant, or any other development that is not related to this application,

  • raise the issue of the commercial success of your business being affected by the establishment of a competitor in your area. This is not a valid environmental concern and your submission may not be accepted. In a worst case scenario, there may be legal issues and costs (including damages for loss suffered) if it is proven in court that you have lodged a submission purely on commercial grounds. However, you can raise the issue of your ability to operate a business being reduced by a direct environmental effect from the proposed activity (such as exposure to noise, dust or smell), if these issues are relevant and they do not relate to trade competition.

Can I write my own submission?

You don’t have to be an expert to write a submission, but you do need to have a good understanding of what’s proposed, what the applicants experts have said and what’s relevant under the RMA. Often potential submitters will engage a specialist to assist them, so they can make sure their submission clearly covers their concerns, raises these in an RMA context and is concise. It can be money well spent in the long run and help you get a better outcome.

Lodging a submission

Now you can often lodge your submission electronically via the Council’s website. If not, you will need to drop it into the Council offices or post it. If you’re posting it, make sure you leave enough time for postage. The notification period will have a specific closing date and time; you need to make sure your submission is received at the Council before the closing time. You also need to send a copy of the submission to the applicant. This can also often be via e-mail.

More information?

As with all our blogs, this is generic information and should not substitute for your own professional advice and investigations. If you want further advice about a resource consent application that’s been notified, get in contact for a chat with our friendly, professional team.

Hannah Thomson is a Director of Planning Plus and has over 17 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.

email Hannah

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.

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