The consents process
There are several steps in getting a resource consent and understanding the process can make it easier.
Download the Otago Regional Council resource consents process flowchart
The Ministry for the Environment also have guides available to help people work with councils here.
You can find out more about each of the stages in the process on the pages below.
Working together for timely resource consents
We aim to process every consent application as efficiently as possible. There are a few things you can do to help us process yours quickly:
- Talk to Consents Team before to submitting your application. They may be able to offer some advice that will save time.
- For larger scale activity applications, consider having a pre-application meeting with Council staff and technical experts.
- Ensure your proposal is consistent with the objectives and policies in the Regional Policy Statement and relevant Regional Plans.
- Include a complete assessment of the environmental and cultural effects with your application. This may involve engaging with technical experts and tāngata whenua. Find out which type of expert can help you here: Technical Expert Guide
- Obtain written approvals from potential affected parties, including tāngata whenua.
- Let us know if you have time constraints or deadlines.
Five steps in the application process
Step 1 - Pre-application
The process for getting consent will be easier if you know how the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) affects your project and what you need to do to have your consent approved. Before making an application for resource consent, careful consideration needs to be given to what an application should contain. Before you start to fill out the correct application form for your activity, we recommend you:
- Flesh out your idea
- Look into what rules might affect your project
- Talk to anyone who may be adversely affected by your proposed project or who may have an interest in the environment in general
This will save you time and money in the long run.
Step 2 - Checking in with Council
We offer pre-application advice for projects that need resource consent.
Pre-application meetings provide an opportunity for us to help you understand what consents might be needed and for you to chat about your proposal with council staff before applying for resource consent. Processing an application is generally simpler, quicker and less costly if the applicant has already sought the council's advice on the relevant plan provisions and information requirements before making an application.
We provide you with information and guidance to ensure you have a good understanding of what needs to be done, before you submit your application.
Meeting with us before you apply for your resource consent will:
- Provide an overview of the Resource Management Act 1991
- Help you understand relevant planning rules
- Confirm and identify what type of consent(s) you may need
- Help identify what information needs to be included in the consent application, such as environmental assessments, data analysis and cultural impacts
- Explain how the process works, including potential costs and times
- Identify and provide contact details for tāngata whenua who may be affected by your application
- Identify other individuals or groups that may also be affected
- Explain which situations determine if your application is publicly or limited notified
Please consider the following before meeting with us:
- Do other parties need to be part of the meeting?
- Does your application involve another council?
- Doing site identification including a legal description and map
- Taking some site photos
- Bringing along a site plan or proposed plan
- Providing a description of the proposal
- Carrying out some initial data analysis
When you’re ready call 0800 474 082 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting with one of our Consents Planners.
Step 3 – Consultation
Consultation may be required before we can make a decision on a resource consent. This could be with your neighbours, tāngata whenua, users of the same water source, or interest groups such as the Department of Conservation or Fish & Game.
Consultation will generally help smooth the processing of a resource consent application. Time spent on consultation before your application is lodged can mean considerable savings by avoiding lengthy and costly pre-hearings, hearings and appeals.
We're happy to provide guidance on who you might need to approach. We go into more detail about the importance of consultation and who you might need to consult.
Step 4 - Preparing your application
The clearer you describe in your consent application what you want to do and where you want to do it, the easier the process of lodging an application will be. There are specific application forms for each activity and you will need to use the correct form in order for it to be processed.
The application form will ask you to:
Describe the activity
You must provide clear details of what you want to do and where. The more information you can provide, the better understanding we will have of your proposal. In particular, we require a map clearly showing the location of proposed works and a legal description of the site. If you need help supplying a site map of your property, we have a few mapping tools that might come in handy.
Describe the environment
We need to know where your proposed activity is located, in relation to nearby features. For example, what is the distance to any significant environmental, historic or cultural sites?
Research plans and rules
In general, for a new consent, you will need to:
Provide an environmental assessment
So that we can assess the likely environmental impact of your activity, your consent application must include an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). Depending on the effects, an AEE can be a short written statement or longer report. Effects on the environment that you will need to consider can be short-term or long-term, positive or negative, and may include:
- Identification of any affected parties and evidence of any consultation
- Effects on the environment
- Possible ways of avoiding, remedying, or reducing any adverse effect identified
- Possible alternatives to the proposal
- Positive effects
Submitting your application
Once you feel your application is ready, please submit it with the initial payment via email (email@example.com), post or in person. After you have lodged your application, we will let you know within 10 working days if we need more information before proceeding to the next step. For information on how to pay and ways to pay, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What if I have a construction or contract deadline that I need my consent for?
Please let us know as soon as possible if there is a deadline you are trying to meet; and we will do our best to accommodate.
It is important to note that there is a process dictated by the RMA that needs to be followed so there are still a number of steps that will need to be followed no matter the urgency of the application.
It is helpful if the application contains all required information and written approvals from any potentially affected parties to ensure there are no hold ups in the process.
Why do I need to apply for a consent when my activity is already authorised?
Regional consents do not have an infinite term under the RMA. Therefore, once the consent expires, if the activity is to continue, a new application must be made and new consent granted for the activity to continue.
Are you charging me for time to learn about a system or issue?
No, staff have ongoing training throughout the year which is not charged to applicants. At the beginning of an application process, we provide an estimate of costs based on level of complexity of the application and looking at the cost of similar consents that have been issued. This provides applicants with an expectation as to what expect of potential costs. We also provide regular updates on costs at key stages of the consent process.
For more information on our Fees and Charges, click here.
Is my compliance history considered in my application processing?
Understanding compliance history is important for any ‘replacement’ application and we are required to look at this under s124B of the RMA.
We consult with the Compliance team during the processing of an application who look at previous audits and provide a summary.
Understanding compliance history is important for determining if additional information is required for an application or whether conditions need to be tailored depending on a situation.