A Quick Guide to Resource Consents

What is a Resource Consent?

Under District and Regional Plans many activities, even those on your own land, require permission from the relevant Council. That permission is known as a Resource Consent.

A Resource Consent is only needed when the District or Regional Plan does not allow something to be done as of right.

Some of the things a Resource Consent is necessary for will be immediately obvious. Things which involve using the land in a way which is unusual or clearly different to the normal use of land in the area. An example of this would be running a business in a residential area.

The activity does not have to be a completely new one to require a Resource Consent. Changes to existing activities or buildings or land uses may require a Resource Consent if the relevant plan says so. If you are undertaking an activity and are unsure as to whether you require a Resource Consent, consult with your solicitor or the relevant Council.

How do I get a Resource Consent?

The relevant Council (“the Consent Authority”) will be able to provide you with a Resource Consent application form. The form will request details such as:

  1. The location the activity or land use is to take place on;
  2. The type of Resource Consent sought;
  3. A detailed description of the proposed activity or land use (including details such as site plans and a written description of what is proposed);
  4. An assessment of the effects of the proposal on the environment (“AEE”);
  5. Any other information required by the Consent Authority.

What is an AEE and how do you prepare it?

If you are applying for a Resource Consent you will need to provide all the information about the proposal it relates to so that the Consent Authority will be able to make a decision which considers all the impacts of the proposal. Part of the information required is the AEE. This is a report which will set out the effects that the proposed activity will have on the environment.

The AEE should set out both positive and negative effects ranging from noise effects, effects on the character or amenity of neighbourhoods to visual effects and smells and odours.

The Resource Management Act 1991 has a checklist of effects that may need to be reported on. This includes:

  1. Effects on those in the neighbourhood;
  2. Physical effects including landscaping and visual effects;
  3. Effects on ecosystems;
  4. Effects on valued resources;
  5. Effects on discharges including noise;
  6. Risks to the neighbourhood, wider community or the environment.

The greater the effects which may result from the proposed activity, the more detailed the AEE should be. It may be necessary to engage an expert to assist in the preparation of the AEE.

Consent of Neighbours

In situations where neighbours or any other people are likely to be affected by the proposed activity (this is a matter that is determined by the Consent Authority rather than by you), the permission of affected parties will need to be obtained. In practice, in most situations this will involve having your neighbours confirm in writing that they consent to the activity. However, affected parties may not just be your neighbours and any affected party will need to consent.


In the event that not all affected parties consent in writing to the activity, the application will be publicly notified by the Consent Authority. Submissions can then be made in writing by anybody with an interest in the activity stating the reason the person has made the submission and the decision that the person, making the submission, wishes the Consent Authority to make.

If the submitters request that the Consent Authority hears their opinion or you as applicant state that you wish to be heard, then the Consent Authority must hold a hearing.

At a hearing the matters the Consent Authority must consider are governed by the Resource Management Act 1991. These include:

  1. Any actual and potential effects on the environment;
  2. Any relevant regulations;
  3. Any relevant objectives, policies, rules or provisions of the District or Regional Plan;
  4. Any relevant designations or heritage orders; and
  5. Any other matters the Consent Authority considers relevant and reasonably necessary to determine the application.

The process of applying for a Resource Consent can be a complex one, especially in the event that the application is to be publicly notified. If the Resource Consent is important to you either personally or for your business, then you need to make sure it is done properly the first time. Getting professional advice from the outset will simplify and clarify the process.