Direct Referral of Resource Consent Applications to the Environment Court
The overwhelming majority of resource consent applications are made to and determined by the relevant territorial authority (e.g. District or Regional Councils) in the first instance. There is then the right (subject to exceptions) to appeal the decision of the authority to the Environment Court.
However, there is also the right under the Resource Management Act 1991 to request that a consent application proceed directly to the Environment Court instead of the Council. The advantage of doing this is that a final determination by the Court will be made quicker than if the decision was made first by the Council and then appealed. For this reason it is useful to exercise this right when there is a sense of urgency in obtaining consent and the likelihood of any appeals of the Council’s decision is high.
A disadvantage is that the applicant is required to pay the Council’s costs as well as those of the Court in hearing and determining the application.
An application must be publicly notified before it can be directly referred to the Court. The applicant must then make the request first to the Council (who has the discretion to grant or decline the request, usually having regard to the factors such as urgency mentioned above), and then if granted, the Court.
Recent consent applications in Queenstown that were directly referred to the Court include the two applications made by Skyline Enterprises Limited to upgrade its gondola and upper and terminal buildings, and to construct a multi-level car park building at the base terminal. Todd & Walker Law acted for Skyline in these applications, both of which successfully obtained consent.Todd & Walker Law also acted on the MEGA Mitre 10 direct referral.
For assistance with consents and all other Resource Management Act matters please contact the expert environmental law team at Todd & Walker Law.