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Section 104 - The business end of the Resource Consent process

The resource consent process can seem complicated and full of unknowns and jargon. To be honest, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Through our weekly blogs we aim to give you free information on the resource consent process, changes to related legislation, and information on development in general. This week we take a look at s104 of the Resource Management Act (RMA).

As you will have seen from our earlier blogs, the resource consent process involves two decisions: a decision regarding notification and a “substantive decision” - whether the application should be granted or not. You can read our blog on notification here.

The “substantive decision” relates to section 104 of the RMA. In general terms, this section of the RMA assesses:

  • positive and negative environmental effects,

  • relevant provisions of

  • a national environmental standard (“NES”),

  • other regulations,

  • a national policy statement (“NPS”),

  • a New Zealand coastal policy statement,

  • a regional policy statement or proposed regional policy statement (objectives and policies),

  • a plan or proposed plan (objectives, policies, assessment criteria etc); and

  • “any other matter the consent authority considers relevant and reasonably necessary to determine the application.” This could include things such as a structure Plan, growth plan or a Council’s Long Term Plan.

You can access all of these documents online, but on different websites. NES and NPS for example can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website. Regional Plans are administered by your local regional council and district/city plans are managed by the district or city council. You can usually find these plans on the relevant Councils website. If not, you can find them at the local Council offices or libraries. You will need to review these documents, so you can understand what they’re trying to achieve and how the objectives and policies flow down into “lower order” provisions such as rules and criteria. This will help you understand how your project fits (or is consistent with) these provisions.

The level of detail of your assessment, and exactly what areas from the list above you need to focus on, depends on what you propose, the scale, complexity and the “activity status”. As a rule of thumb, the bigger and more complex your application is the more detailed your assessment should be. Sometimes if your proposal is more straight forward you could try to draft the assessment yourself, or your architect could assist. However, as you can see from the list above, there are a lot of different plans, standards and regulations to consider and this can easily become very compacted. Your money is well spent in getting a planner to assist you and navigate the resource consent process for you.

Unless your proposal is for a “controlled activity” (there are usually only a few of these), the Council can decline your application. There is always risk associated with a resource consent application and its important you do your homework thoroughly at the start and submit a good application that assesses all the relevant issues, including objectives and policies.

The s104 RMA assessment can be complicated; if you want to take the stress out of the resource consent process for yourself give our experience team a call. We know the process inside out!

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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