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What is a resource consent?

For this week’s blog, we’re taking a step back and answering the question “what is a resource consent?”

A resource consent gives you an authority to use a “resource” such as land or water in a way that breaches a planning rule. The “planning rule” is likely to be in a regional or district plan, but may also be a National Environmental Standard (such as the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health which relates to contamination). A resource consent is different from a building consent, which you’ll need if you’re constructing, altering, demolishing or removing a building. See our blog on building consents, which we hope will help you with some basic information. Our team specialise in resource consent applications, so building consents are not something we provide services for.

What can a resource consent be required for?

A resource consent can relate to:

  • Establishing a new land use, such as a new dwelling, a new building, commercial activity or earthworks,

  • Removing vegetation,

  • Taking water,

  • Doing works in a watercourse,

  • Discharging wastewater,

  • Building a jetty,

  • Subdividing a site. This could be a fee simple subdivision, unit title or cross lease.

There are many other examples, but this gives you an idea of the diversity of activities which could require a resource consent.

The rules for activities vary from region to region. In some cases, you will need a resource consent from the district and regional Council. In Auckland, the Auckland Council is a unitary authority, which means the Council does both regional and district Council functions. For resource consents this means you can apply for different resource consents for the same development at the same time; this saves time and money.

National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (it’s a bit of a mouth- full so is often referred to as the “NES (Soil)”) also contains rules, if certain activities have been undertaken on your site (either now or in the past). This could include horticulture, sheep dips, chemical manufacture and landfill sites. The NES(Soil) ensures that land affected by contaminants in soil is appropriately identified and assessed before it is developed - and if necessary the land is remediated, or the contaminants contained to make the land safe for human use.

Take a look at our earlier blog “How do I know if I need a resource consent” to find out more information about how you can do some initial investigations yourself, to see if you need a resource consent. A resource consent is different to a building consent, and you don’t always need one. There are usually a lot of activities you can do without one, so some early research could save you money. You could even redesign your development to remove the need for a resource consent.

When do I need to apply?

You need to apply for your resource consent before you start the works or the activity. If you don’t, you run the risk of not getting resource consent and having to rectify the works/ stop the activity, or the Council taking enforcement action. This could include informal communications at the lower end of the scale, abatement notices, fines and prosecution. In a recent case, a repeat offender was sentenced to 2 years in jail, so this isn’t something to be taken lightly.

How much will it cost?

To help you with this question we have two helpful blogs on this topic:

What does a resource consent look like?

A resource consent looks like a letter or a report. It will have the site details and a description of what’s consented on the first page, followed by reasons for the decision (addressing the relevant Resource Management Act sections) and conditions.

Make sure you read all the conditions. This sets out how you must undertake the activity and what actions you must take. This could include input from other people at certain stages, such as engineering supervision and certification. Make sure you read through the conditions regularly and know what you need to do and when. The Council will monitor your compliance with these conditions and can take enforcement action if you don’t comply.

Want to know more?

Subscribe to our website and you'll receive our free downloadable e-guide “4 Easy Steps to getting Resource Consent." You can also take a look at our other website blogs, including an earlier series we wrote on the resource consent process.

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.

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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