The time frames and processes for a publicly notified and limited notified applications are shown in the flowchart on the Ministry for the Environment’s website, and are outlined in greater detail in the MfE publications: A guide to the six month processing for notified resource consents applications, and Resource Management (Discount on Administrative Charges) Regulations 2010: Implementation Guidance.
Notified and limited notified resource consents can involve two decision paths – those that do not require a hearing and those that do require a hearing. The processing time for such applications varies between 60 and 130 working days.
- Notification Determination. The notification determination needs to be made within 20 working days after the application is first lodged (s95 95(2)(b)), or within 10 working days in the case of a fast track application (s 95(2)(a))
- Submission Period: 20 working day submission period (s97). In the case of limited notified applications, this can be reduced if a submission has been received by all affected persons (or written approval of these persons, or notice that they will not make a submission),
- Applicant or submitter can request independent hearing commissioners up to 5 working days after the close of submissions (s100A(3)).
- Is further information needed as a result of submissions? If further information is required, request can be made however the clock cannot be stopped.
- Does a report need to be commissioned? The clock can be stopped for the commissioning of a report if the applicant agrees.
- If a hearing is not required, the decision on the application is to be issued no more than 20 working days after submissions close (s115(4)). Total working days = 60.
- If a hearing is required (note that a pre-hearing meeting (s99) or mediation (s99A) may also occur), pre-circulation of evidence must be carried out. Council’s section 42A report and evidence is due 15 working days before the hearing, applicant’s evidence is due 10 working days before the hearing and submitters expert evidence is due five working days before the hearing.
- Notice of hearing is to be provided at least 10 working days before the hearing (s101(3)).
- Completion of Hearing:
- For publicly notified applications, the hearing must be completed 75 working days after the close of submissions.
- For limited notified applications, the hearing must be completed 45 working days after the close of submissions.
- Notice of decision is to be issued no more than 15 working days after the hearing closes (s115(2)).
Stopping the clock:
The Act only allows the ‘clock’ to be stopped for the following reasons for consents that are decided by a council:
- s88C(2) – First request for further information (s92) as long as this request is made prior to notification
- s88C(4) and (6) – The commissioning of a report (s92(2)(b))
- s88C(2), (4) and (6) – Requests for Direct referrals
- s88E(2) – Waiting for other applications to be lodged (s91(2))
- s88E(3) – Waiting for written approval where parties are considered affected
- s88E(6) – When referred to mediation (s99A)
- s88E(8) – At the request of the applicant (s91A)
If the council has not complied with the timeframes specified in the Act (and outlined in the Schedule to the Resource Management (Discount on Administrative Charges) Regulations 2010) (the Discount Regulations), the council must give a discount on fees paid by the applicant at a rate of 1% for every additional (overtime) working day. In order to calculate whether a discount applies, the Discount Regulations specifically exclude (deduct) the following days from the calculation of days:
- the working days on which a council is waiting for the full payment of an administrative charge under section 36(7). This includes the days awaiting for the payment of a notification fee (if that fee is fixed);
- the extended working days as provided for by section 37(1) (as noted below)
- any of the excluded days listed by section 88B (as noted above)
- the working days when a council does not process the application for any other reason in the RMA; in any other enactment, or for a reason based on any rule of law
- for non-notified applications where a hearing is held, the working days from the commencement to the close of the hearing
- if the application needs to be re-notified, the working days starting on the day on which the application is first notified and ending on the last working day before the application is re-notified
Further details in relation to these regulations can be found in the MfE guidance: Resource Management (Discount on Administrative Charges) Regulations 2010: Implementation Guidance.
The consent authority may only extend the time periods of the Act as follows:
- s37A(4) – When the extension sought is no more than twice the maximum time period and special circumstances exist, or the applicant agrees to the extension; or
- s37A(5) – When the extension sought is more than twice the maximum period and the applicant agrees to the extension.
For further guidance on the use of Section 37, refer to the relevant guidance note.