Resource Management Act: RMA Link: Processes: Details

The RMAlink project aims to make community participation in all Resource Management Act processes more straightforward and less time-consuming. More effective participation from those with a concern for the environment will contribute towards improving environmental outcomes nationwide.

Processes: Details

Hosted by:

Wellington Community Network
Subject Resource Consent Processes

Text Resource Consent Applications

If you are submitting on a notified resource consent, any of the general guides listed in the publications section of this information directory will give you a background understanding on the process for resource consent applications the information that must be provided, procedures, time constraints etc. Part VI of the RMA (sections 87-150), and the Fourth Schedule, cover the consent process.

If you are using the internet to obtain information, the resources on the RMAguide, Forest and Bird, and SustAin sites will give you a good start.

Writing Your Submission
Your submission should follow the general layout of Form 13, preferably with sections numbered 1-8 as in the form. Forms can be obtained from your local council office, or downloaded from the MFE website.

The submission should state which parts of the application you support / oppose, and include your reasons, supported by the best facts and information that you have available.

Ensure that your submission states the decision you would like the consent authority to make, as clearly as possible. State what conditions you consider should be placed on the consent. If possible,support these statements with facts and figures. Refer to best environmental practice guidelines if possible

Researching Your Submission.
The following is a list of suggestions for research. The information contained in RMAlinks topic pages will be useful in getting you started. There will be a lot of other information local and regional council reports, facts and figures, and the provisions of plans and policy documents - that is relevant to your particular situation.

  1. It is useful to read through the following sections of the Act, as these may guide your research, and give you ideas on how to argue for a better environmental outcome. Refer to Part VI of the RMA. In particular, Section 88 and the Fourth Schedule outline the information that must be provided by the applicant. Section 104 lists the matters that the consent authority should consider when making a decision on a consent application. Section 108 lists the types of conditions that can be imposed. Sections 96-98 cover making submissions.

  2. Refer to Part II (sections 5, 6, 7 and 8) of the RMA. Councils have an obligation to fulfil the requirements of this part of the Act when making a decision, and your submission can emphasise this point. There are requirements relating to ecosystems, biodiversity, habitats, indigenous vegetation and landscapes which are matters of national importance. Forest and Birds Breaking Down the Barriers and the EDS Community Guide to the RMA both discuss the interpretation of Part II of the Act.

  3. Refer to the policy and planning provisions relevant to the issues you are dealing with. Ask your council planning staff to help you find the relevant parts of the regional policy statement, regional plan(s), and the district plan policies, methods and rules that apply.

  4. Locate relevant reports and research. RMAlinks topic pages are a starting point for this. Think about where you might contact experts in a particular field, who could refer you to current research findings, or reports on resources in your area. Contact your regional or local council, your nearest office of DOC or Fish and Game, NZ Ecological Society, NIWA or Landcare Research.

    Networking enables you to contact groups who have dealt with similar issues or development applications. You can ask them to direct you to useful published information, or experts.

  5. Scrutinise the Assessment of Environmental Effects provided by the applicant. In your submission, you may discuss any omissions, factual inaccuracies, shortcomings in their analysis of risk, or methods of assessment. Section 88 now enables a consent authority to return an application if the AEE is inadequate (this must be done within 5 days of receipt).

  6. Locate any accepted guidelines for best practice (especially environmental best practice) that relate to the land use or activity in question. These may include Industry Codes of Practice, NZ standards, Accords, (e.g. for dairy farming, forestry) or statutory regulations. Best practice guidelines can help you to clarify the decision that you seek, i.e. what you can reasonably ask for. Some industry guidelines are weak on environmental protection, so proceed with caution here. Refer to them only if they strengthen your case.

  7. Include your local knowledge and observations where appropriate. Neighbours and other members of your group may be able to contribute here.

  8. Locate relevant case law. Your Community Law Centre may be able to assist with this. For the amateur, cases that have reached decisions on similar land use activities or issues can be instructive. You will be able to see which points are considered important by the court, and consent conditions that have been imposed to avoid, remedy or mitigate environmental effects in similar situations. Wherever possible, seek experienced or professional advice before constructing any arguments in your submission around case law.

  9. Think about monitoring of environmental effects in the years after the consent is granted. Will there be on-site monitoring to ensure that the applicant is complying with consent conditions? Will your council be monitoring the surrounding environment to ensure that pollutants are within acceptable levels?

Where to get help to prepare your submission

  • Network with other groups you never know, in your community there may be a lawyer, planning professional, scientific or technical expert, or people with longstanding experience in dealing with the RMA.
  • Network with other groups from around New Zealand who have dealt with similar situations. They may be able to assist you with information and advice.
  • Seek advice from your nearest environment centre, and advice on legal aspects from your nearest community law centre.
  • Council staff can provide information, but are required to retain a neutral position. They should not be asked to assist in preparing submissions.
  • Consult a resource management professional if your budget permits. A council considering your submission is likely to give it more weight if it is prepared by a resource management professional.



Resources From Your Local Council
Ask at your local council office for forms, and any brochures or booklets they have available that will help you prepare your submission, and clearly explain the resource consent process. Visit their website and look for useful information. To find council websites, visit the local government site,

Ministry for the Environment Publications
All the MFE publications listed below are available free online at

MFE (2004) Your Rights as an 'Affected Person'
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
A guide for people who have been asked to give their written approval to someone else's resource consent application. One of the 'Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act' series.

MFE (2004) Making a Submission About a Resource Consent or Designation
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
A guide on how to make good written submissions to your local council about a resource consent. One of the 'Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act' series.

MFE (2004) Appearing at a Resource Consent or Designation Hearing
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
A guide for people who have made a submission and want to speak at a hearing. One of the 'Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act' series.

Peart, R. (2004) Community Guide to the Resource Management Act.
Environmental Defence Society, Auckland.
Comprehensive guide covers just about everything you need to know about making a submission.
Section 6 Submissions on Resource Consent Applications p 53-60
Section 9 Useful Skills p 85-90 covers how to research your submission obtaining information, locating case law, locating resource management professionals, negotiating a favourable outcome.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand (2003) Breaking Down the Barriers.
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, Wellington. 58p.
This contains good information on the resource consent process, hearings and negotiations, and examples of the submission forms. Read online at

MFE (1999) Your Guide to the Resource Management Act (Draft). ME 388.
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington. 69p ISBN 0 478 09053
Chapter 4, p46-54 Getting involved in Resource Management decisionmaking covers the submission-making process.

Harris, R. (ed) (2004) Handbook of Environmental Law.
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
Chapter 4A, p139-152, covers the resource consent process, and making submissions on consents.

Roxburgh, G. (1999) Getting in on the Act: A Guide to Making a Submission on a Resource Consent Application. Video.
Environmental Solutions NZ Ltd, and Fresh Media Ltd. Auckland.
10 minute video, gives an overview of the resource consent process, and outlines how to go about making a submission on a notified resource consent.
Try your public library.

MFE (1998) Making Submissions on Notified Resource Consents.
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
This is an A4 colour brochure that provides a basic introduction to making submissions.

MFE (1999) Striking a Balance A practice guide on consultations and communication for project advocates. ME 327 67p
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
A best practice guide for applicants trying to gain a consent for facilities that communities often dont want in their backyard projects such as residential treatment facilities, road upgrades, meatworks, large industry. Useful for communities who want to assess whether consultation with them has been conducted according to best practice.

MFE (2001) Effective and Enforceable Resource Consent Conditions. ME 388
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
Guide for planning staff drafting conditions. Discusses financial contributions, requirement for a site management plan, use of technical standards, monitoring and review provisions / timeframes, councils responsibility to enforce, enforcement options. Covers legal aspects (case law on various types of conditions is included). Useful background for submitters who would like to see certain types of conditions imposed, and want to research the feasibility of this.

MFE (2000) Resource Consent Durations and Reviews. ME 361
Ministry for the Environment, Wellington.
This report looks at current council practice regarding Sections 123-133 of the Act, and discusses relevant case law. Providing for early review of consent conditions, or granting consent for a shorter than usual time period, is a way of addressing community concern over environmental risk, and taking a precautionary approach to uncertainty over environmental effects.

Journal Articles

Sutherland, Lisa (2001) Management Plans Problems Ahead.
Resource Management Journal, July 2001. p7-11.
Article discusses management plans, and their use when there is a lack of available information at the time a consent is granted. Relevant to large infrastructure sites and networks.

Web-Based Resources

Resources: Forest and Bird material on the RMA includes How to make a submission, and examples of Forest and Bird submissions on plans, government policy, and legislation. You will also find the full text of the publication Breaking Down the Barriers on this site.

Resources: Site administered by Environmental Defence Society. Very useful sections on Resource Consent Submissions and Plan Submissions. Site Tools section has downloadable forms for making submissions (these are accepted format and content as prescribed in the Resource Management (Forms, Fees, and Procedure) Regulations 2003. Examples of submissions.

Resources: Site of the Auckland Community Environmental Law Service. Useful basic information on the resource consent process. Information is available on request in several languages other than English.

Resources: See 'Monitoring One-Stop-Shop'. Includes guidance for planners on monitoring of consent holders for compliance with conditions of their consent. This site also has submission forms available to download.