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Resource Consent Hearings

What is a Resource Consent Hearing?

A hearing is a formal forum that is held to consider resource consent applications and other RMA matters such as designation, heritage orders, proposed plans including variations and plan changes.

For resource consent applications, it is a chance for the applicant and the submitters to present their case in public to a neutral Independent Hearing Commissioner before a decision or recommendation is made. Only the Commissioner may ask questions of witnesses, no cross-examination is permitted.

Hearings may only be held for notified applications and if one or more submissions have been received - a hearing will not be held if the applicant or submitters do not wish to be heard. The cost of the hearing will be borne by the applicant.

The cost of the hearing will be borne by the applicant where a Hearing Panel decides the resource consent application. Where an Independent Hearings Commissioner is required, the applicant will pay the costs, except where a submitter requires that an Independent Hearings Commissioner is used – in this circumstance, the applicant and submitter share the cost. See fees and charges for an indication of costs which may be involved in proceeding to a hearing.

Fees and Charges

Who will be at the Hearing?

  • Hearings Panel:

    This is made up of Councillors and/or independent commissioners.  The Panel will listen to the evidence and make the final decision. 
  • Applicant:

    The person who is applying for a resource consent.
  • Applicant's Lawyer/Planner

    The advocate, who is often a lawyer, is employed by the client to represent their interests. Advocates are not expert witnesses and do not give evidence. A Planner, however, is still required to be impartial.

  • Submitters: 

    People who are affected by the proposal. 
  • Expert Witnesses:

    People who present evidence on particular subjects, such as planning, noise, traffic, or ecological effects. 
  • Council Planner:

    Staff member who is available to comment on any of the evidence given at the Hearing. 
  • Hearings Secretary:

    Staff member who provides administration support and minutes the Hearings.

Note - hearings are a public forum, so members of the public may also attend.

Appearing at a Hearing

The Hearing gives you the chance to explain your submission to the Hearings Panel and present evidence that supports your submission.

What is evidence?

Evidence is anything that backs up your statement.  Evidence can be oral, written or visual (photographs and drawings).  It should focus on fact and directly relate to your submission.

Who can speak at a Hearing?

  • members of the Hearings Panel
  • the applicants and their witnesses
  • Council staff
  • the submitter and any supporting witnesses
  • Note - if you have not lodged a submission, you have no speaking rights

Tips for the day of the Hearing

  • Read your statement clearly and slowly enough to be understood
  • Focus on the environmental matters, not simply what you like and dislike
  • Elaborate on your submission but don't introduce any new issues
  • If you are nervous about speaking you can use a spokesperson (advocate)
  • Think about using a lawyer as your advocate if your submission explores legal matters

More information

"What submitters need to know about Resource Consent Hearings" brochure (234kb pdf)

This includes information such as:

  • getting ready for the Hearing
  • providing evidence before the hearing
  • what happens at the hearing

Last Reviewed: 22/02/2017