When you apply to Council for resource consent it makes sense to provide enough information to enable it to be easily assessed by Council staff. You’ll not only be complying with your legal requirements under the Resource Management Act (RMA) but helping streamline your application processing time.
Having said that, it’s not always easy to get all the information required across clearly in a complex application. Other times, you may have omitted to identify an important piece of information in your assessment of effects, or a Council officer is concerned about something that you didn’t expect or weren’t aware of. This week’s blog is about Section 92 RMA and why it’s in your best interest to provide additional information as quickly and thoroughly as you can.
What is section 92?
Section 92 (s92) of the RMA allows Councils to request further information from an applicant before making the decision to refuse or grant consent. It can also be used to commission a specialists report. A s92 RMA request is made when Council’s planner doesn’t have adequate information to make a decision on the proposal; in essence they need further information to fully understand what’s proposed and how this fits with planning rules, objectives and policies.
If further information is required, the consent authority must notify you in writing.
What you have to do?
If you receive a request under s92 RMA you have 15 working days from the date of the request to take one of the following actions:
provide the information requested; or
inform the consent authority in a writing that you agree to provide the information; or
tell the consent authority in a written notice that your refuse to provide the information.
If you need more time to provide the information, you can arrange for approval in advance for a reasonable timeframe
within which to deliver, and what is considered reasonable is to be negotiated and will depend on the extent of the information requested. The main purpose of this timeframe is to make sure that the application progresses in a reasonable way. Its not in anyone’s interests for an application to be sitting around for long periods of time going nowhere.
What’s in your best interest?
You have the right to refuse to provide the information, but you need to keep in mind that this can affect the decisions made and how your application progresses. For example, if the Council needs the information to understand the proposal and assess potential adverse effects, they may have insufficient information to conclude adverse effects are minor and your application could be notified. You should answer the Council’s questions in a polite, professional manner; even if you think they’re not relevant or are annoying you still need to address them in some way. Your planner can help you question the request if you think its outside of the “scope” of the application or onerous.
Notification can also happen if you don’t respond or if you don’t respond by the agreed date. So, if you need more time, keep up the communication and set a new date.
How to keep things moving?
The RMA sets a standard time limit of 20 working days to process an application. However, when further information requests are made, they stop the processing 'clock', and it doesn’t start again until the planner is satisfied all the requested information has been provided. This means that if you provide an inadequate response, the application is still “on hold”. It’s important that you fully understand what’s being asked for and what the Council’s concerns are, so you can provide the best response.
Once all the required information has been accepted, your application begins processing again. Hopefully at this stage you have had good communication with the council planner and are aware of any issues and have been able to address them.
If you want to know more, you can read our free e-guide, which will give you context as to where s92 RMA fits into the consenting process. You can download this for free from our website.
If you need some advice about preparing a comprehensive resource consent application, get in contact with our helpful team. You can see that getting an application right can be complicated, and this is where a Planner can help you. At Planning Plus, we deal with this process every day and know it inside out. We can manage the application process for you, taking away the stress from what can become a difficult process.
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.
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.