The hearing process allows us to understand the different points and view on a consent application in order to make a decision on whether the consent should be granted.

Some consents are heard through a pre-hearing meeting and if all the issues raised are satisfactorily resolved for the parties involved a formal hearing won’t be required.  Others will be heard by resource consent commissioner(s) or a hearings panel.

Pre-hearing meetings

A pre-hearing meeting may be held if submissions are received on an application that has been publicly notified.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues arising from the resource consent application.

The meeting provides an opportunity for parties to work out points of disagreement or misunderstanding.  The basis of such an agreement is usually a set of draft conditions.

If an agreement is reached, then a formal hearing may not be required. Even if a formal hearing is required, contentious issues can be identified and clarified at the meeting.

The meeting will be held as soon as possible after the submission period for the application has closed. It will be held as close as practicable to the site for which the application is made.

The applicant and all submitters will be invited to attend. Otago Regional Council staff will chair the meeting. Applicants or submitters may choose to have legal or other representation at the meeting.

This representation is optional.

The report from the meeting will be circulated to all parties and will be taken into account by the decision-makers.

For the meeting to be effective:

  • all parties must be willing to find a solution
  • there must be potential for resolution


A hearing is a formal forum for considering resource consent applications. It gives the applicant and all submitters the opportunity to formally present their cases to a hearings panel or hearings commissioner(s).

A hearing is only required if:

  • the consent authority (the Otago Regional Council) considers it necessary, or
  • the applicant or a submitter requests a hearing

A hearing must be held within 25 working days of the submission period closing. This time limit may be extended by us if we require it or after a request from the applicant.

The hearings panel will comprise two or more Regional Councillors. A panel has delegated authority to hear and determine the outcome of consent applications. Independent commissioner(s) may be appointed to the panel.

If there is a conflict of interest for the Regional Council, the application will be heard and determined by independent commissioner(s).

Before the hearing

Our consents officer's report on the application will be circulated to all parties. The applicant and submitters will be invited to circulate material that will be presented at the hearing.

After the hearing

The applicant and every submitter who has stated a desire to be heard may speak and call evidence at the hearing, either personally or through a representative.

  • submitters may not raise any issues that were not covered in their written submission. points may be elaborated upon but no new issues may be raised
  • evidence is not given on oath
  • only panel members may question any party or witness. there will be no cross examination
  • the panel may request or receive advice
  • evidence may be written or spoken in te reo Māori, an interpreter will be provided if advance notice of evidence in te reo Māori is given


  • introduction
  • council officer reports on the application (this step is sometimes omitted)
  • applicant presents the application(s)
  • submitter(s) speak on their submission(s)
  • applicant responds
  • hearing is closed or adjourned
  • decision is circulated


Hearing costs

Before the hearing the applicant will be issued with an invoice requesting the payment of a deposit for the costs associated with the hearing. This will be a deposit for 90% of the likely costs of the hearing. The applicant will need to pay this invoice 10 working days before the hearing. If this deposit is not paid, then Council can cancel the hearing.

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