A submission is a written statement of support or opposition to an advertised consent application.
The RMA is designed to ensure that there is opportunity for the public (or directly affected parties for limited notified applications) to participate in the management of our resources. When someone wants to do something which could have a significant effect on the environment there is an opportunity for the public or directly affected parties to have a say by making a submission.
Why should you make a submission?
Making a submission on an application is the most significant way for the public to influence the resource consent process. The hearing panel considers all submissions, and the number of submissions for or against a proposal is an important consideration.
How do you make a submission?
If you are considering making a submission on a resource consent application, you need to start by finding out as much as possible about the proposal and its effects. It is important to talk to the applicant about the proposal. This may even allay your concerns. You should also talk to the organisations or individuals who can provide technical information on the causes and consequences of effects and possible ways of reducing or avoiding any undesirable effects.
A submission should be concise, to the point and clearly state:
- Your reasons for making a submission.
- Whether you support or oppose the application.
- How the proposal affects the environment.
- Suggested alternatives to the proposed approach.
- How any adverse effects could be mitigated.
- The decision you wish the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to reach.
- Whether you wish to speak at any subsequent hearing.
- The conditions you feel should be imposed if the consent is granted.
All points made should be supported with adequate information. The closing date for submissions is always set out in the public notice which advertises the consent application. If a hearing is required you may need to pre-circulate your detailed evidence to all parties before the hearing. A failure to pre-circulate information could result in adjournments of the hearing committee and unnecessary time delays.
Can I appeal a resource consent?
If you disagree with our decision to grant a Resource Consent, submitters can appeal the decision within 15 working days of receiving notice of the decision if you are a submitter or the applicant. As a result the application will be reconsidered by the Environment Court.
Details on how to lodge an appeal are sent to all parties with the letter notifying the Council's decision. The Environment Court has the same status as a District Court and all parties are bound by its decisions. Appeals can be expensive and time consuming with no guarantee of a favourable outcome. If you are considering making an appeal you are strongly advised to seek legal advice first.
A hearing is a formal forum where the pros and cons of a Resource Consent application are presented. A hearing gives the applicant and the submitters the opportunity to formally present their case to a Hearings Committee or Hearings Commissioner(s) which will make the ultimate decision as to whether to grant the Resource Consent and what conditions to set if granted. The Consents Officer who has been assigned to your application will attend the hearing and provide a report on your activity.
When is a hearing required?
A hearing is only required if Council considers it necessary or the applicant or submitter requests a hearing.
A formal hearing is required when a 'pre-hearing meeting' fails to reach a satisfactory agreement.
The RMA stipulates that a hearing must be held within 25 working days of the submission period closing. This time limit maybe extended by Council either on its own initiative or after a request from the applicant.
What is a hearings committee?
A hearing committee (or hearing panel) normally comprises of two or more Regional Councillors. In some instances independent commissioners may also be part of the panel or solely hear the application. The Hearing Committee is a quasi-judicial body and under legislation is able to set its own procedures.
- Introduction of parties involved and application.
- Applicant or their representative/s presents proposal and expert evidence.
- Submitter(s) speak on submission(s) and call on any experts.
- Council staff present a report on recommendations (including conditions where appropriate).
- Applicant has right to respond to verbal submissions and staff presentation Hearing is closed or adjourned and committee retires to make a decision (usually 15 working days).
- Decision is circulated.
The applicant and every submitter who has stated a wish to be heard may speak and call evidence at a hearing, either personally or through a representative. The Hearing Committee may require pre-circulation of all expert evidence prior to the hearing. Submitters may not raise any issues not covered in their initial written submissions. Hearing Committee members may ask questions of the applicant and submitters to seek clarification.
Staff and submitters may submit questions through the Chairperson on points of clarification. The Chairperson decides whether to ask these questions. No cross examination is permitted. The Committee may seek any additional advice it requires to assist the hearing process. Evidence may be written or spoken in Maori, however, sufficient notice must be provided to allow an interpreter to be available at the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing the Committee has 15 days in which to release their decision.
Recent decisions on notified applications
There are no resource consent decisions at this time.