Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 – Changes to Consenting
As signalled by Minister Parker from the outset, a key purpose of the Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 (“the Act”) was to reverse some of the more objectionable changes to the resource consent process that were made by the Resource Management Amendment Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”).
To that end, the key changes made by the Act with respect to consenting relate to:
- Appeals and public notification;
- The presumption for subdivision activity; and
- The potential for the processing of non-notified resource consent applications to be suspended.
Appeals and public notification
The Act repeals the restrictions on notifying and appealing resource consent applications for subdivision and residential activities that were introduced by the 2017 Act, as of 30 September 2020. Note that those restrictions will remain for boundary activities. It also repealed the requirement that submitters can only appeal matters that were raised in their original submission (also introduced by the 2017 Act), as of 1 July 2020.
These amendments are addressed in sections 33 and 37 of the Act, making changes to sections 95A and 120 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”).
Presumption of subdivision activity
The Act repealed the presumption relating to subdivision activity that was introduced by the 2017 Act, as of 1 July 2020. In accordance with the 2017 Act, the presumption was the same as that for land use under section 9 of the RMA – i.e., that subdivision activity was permitted unless a plan states otherwise. The presumption is now that subdivision is not permitted unless provided for by a national environmental standard, district plan (including proposed district plan) or resource consent. This is the same as the presumption which existed prior to amendment by the 2017 Act.
This amendment is addressed in section 7 of the Act, making changes to sections 11(1)(a) and 11(1A) of the RMA.
Suspension of resource consent applications
The Act enables applicants to have the processing of non-notified resource consent applications suspended for up to 20 working days. Processing can be suspended before a decision about notification is made and if there is a hearing, up until a hearing is completed, or if there is no hearing, up until the consent decision is issued. Previously, an applicant could suspend their application only when that application was notified.
The Act also enables consent authorities to suspend the processing of resource consent applications until administrative charges are paid. Section 36 of the RMA allows councils to set administrative charges related to the cost of processing applications. Councils may now suspend processing until fees are paid and exclude this time period from the statutory time limit for processing.
These amendments are addressed in sections 26 to 33 in the Act, making changes to (and otherwise inserting) sections 88B, 88E, 88G to 88H and 91A to 91F in the RMA. These changes will all come into force as of 30 September 2020.