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Notification - What’s that mean?

Development on your own land- you’re the only one who gets a say right? Wrong! If you need a resource consent, one of the two assessments that the Council will do relates to notification; basically, who can have a say. There have been some recent changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) where some activity types are now excluded from notification. This blog does not relate to those activities, and you would need to check first if what you propose is excluded. This blog is intended as a general guide for the more typical activity types, that need a resource consent and are subject to the normal notification tests.

What is the notification decision?

The notification decision relates to adverse environmental effects and is made under section 95 of the Resource Management Act (RMA). This covers a wide variety of potential effects, such as:

  • effects on the expected character or amenity of an area,

  • water quality,

  • effects on ecology,

  • traffic and transportation,

  • natural hazards,

  • heritage values,

  • cultural matters.

The effect could be permanent or temporary. What needs assessment varies depending on the type of activity you’re proposing and is set out in your Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). This assessment can become quite complicated, and we always recommend that you engage a professional planner to assist with your resource consent application.

When assessing effects, the Council will look at two different areas; potential adverse effects on the wider environment (“public notification”) and potential adverse effects on people (“limited notification”).

Public notification

Public notification must occur if either the applicant has requested it or if adverse effects are (or are likely to be) more than minor. Applicants for some larger resource consent applications sometimes request public notification as this can make the process faster. Applicants for smaller resource consent proposals generally don’t request public notification.

A publicly notified resource consent application is much more expensive than a non-notified application, takes more time and allows anyone to become involved (as they can make submissions, present evidence at the hearing and appeal the decision). This shows that its worth spending the time, money and effort to submit a good application that addresses all the relevant issues and assesses everything in detail. Sometimes however even with good assessment, an application is still notified. This may be because Council specialists have a different opinion to yours. Notification doesn’t mean that you won’t get resource consent approval, but you need to be aware of the risks and costs and make an informed decision about proceeding.

Limited notification

Limited notification is the second area that the Council will assess. This assesses potential effects on people, which could include owners of neighbouring properties, groups or government agencies (such as NZ Transport Agency). A person is affected if adverse effects on them are minor - this isn’t a high threshold. You should specifically assess potential effects on people in your AEE.

If the Council determines that your application needs to be “limited notified”, its notified to specific people and only they can make a submission. Other people who may be interested in your development can’t make a submission. As the name suggests, notification is “limited” or restricted. While often cheaper than full notification, limited notification still costs a reasonable amount of money and is a much longer process than that for a non-notified application.

Special circumstances

You also need to consider “special circumstances” in your AEE- is there something unusual about your project that would make notification desirable? This section of the RMA isn’t utilised very often, but you should consider it in your assessment.

Want more advice?

If you’re worried about notification risks associated with your development, give our team a call. We have over 42 years of combined experience and know both sides of the resource consent process. We will give you honest advice, so you can make an informed decision. Give our friendly team a call!

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. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

Hannah Thomson is 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.

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