Resource Consent Overview


This page contains an overview of Resource Consents including information about the Resource Management Act, what a Resource Consent is and how applications are processed. 

What is the Resource Management Act?

The Resource Management Act 1991 promotes the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in New Zealand. It does this by providing a legal framework for resource management decisions using policy statements and plans at a national, regional and local level. This includes a system of resource consents where activities relate to the management of land, subdivision, water, soil resources, the coast, air, pollution and noise control.

The relevant resource management document for the Horowhenua is the Operative Horowhenua District Plan which includes objectives, policies and rules relating to the natural and physical resources of the Horowhenua.

Horizons Regional Council (the Regional Council) is responsible for resource consents involving discharges to air, land and water, taking, using damming or diverting water; activities in the coastal marine area (except fishing); activities in the beds of rivers and lakes and specific uses of land that may cause soil erosion. For further information contact Horizons Regional Council.

To view, download or print a free copy of the Resource Management Act 1991 go to the New Zealand Legislation website.

The Horowhenua District Council controls subdivision and land use activities such as relocating buildings, the building density allowed on properties and activities that may occur on properties. This is done through the Operative District Plan. If you are going to exceed a rule in the District Plan then a resource consent will be required.

A resource consent is permission for a person or organisation to use or develop a natural or physical resource and/or carry out an activity that may affect the environment in the District. This resource consent process enables the Council to manage the environment as it is the Council's legal obligation to ensure that such effects are no more than minor under the Resource Management Act.

Do all subdivision and land use activities require a Resource Consent?

All subdivision of land requires a Resource Consent. It is recommended that for subdivision consents you contact a Planning Consultant or Surveyor. These can be found in the Yellow Pages. Land use activities which do not meet permitted activity standards in the District Plan also require a Resource Consent. The Rules and Standards in the District Plan determine the category of your land-use or subdivision application and how it will be assessed. Land-use activities are divided into five different categories and subdivision into four (there are no permitted activities for subdivisions):

  1. Permitted Activity - If your activity meets the Rules and Standards of the District Plan for a permitted activity you will not need a Resource Consent for your proposal. Although permitted activities do not require a Resource Consent, other consents may be required such as a building or earthworks consent.
  2. Controlled Activity - You will need to apply for a Resource Consent if your activity is controlled, although Council must grant your consent. There are Rules and Standards that your activity must meet to be a controlled activity. Conditions may be imposed to remedy or mitigate any effects from your activity that cannot be avoided but only in relation to those matters over which Council has reserved control. An Assessment of Effects on the Environment (AEE) for a controlled activity application need only address the matters over which Council reserves control, as listed in the District Plan. -See the Ministry for the Environment website at for a guide to providing a basic AEE.
  3. Limited Discretionary Activity - If the activity you wish to undertake does not comply with a rule in the District Plan, it becomes a Limited Discretionary Activity. Council can approve or decline your application with regard to the non compliance. An example of this type of application is if you were proposing to site your new garage too close to the road boundary. Your AEE will have to address the non compliance and the matters over which Council has reserved its control in the District Plan. There may be potentially affected parties due to this non compliance. Using the garage example from above, your neighbours on either side may be affected. -See the Ministry for the Environment website at for a guide to affected persons/parties.
  4. Discretionary Activity - If the activity you are proposing is a discretionary activity, then it is likely that affected parties will have to be consulted and it will need to be assessed against the objectives and policies of the District Plan. Council will then decide whether to grant or refuse the consent. Conditions will usually be placed on a discretionary activity.
  5. Non-Complying Activity - A resource consent is required for the activity. Council may decline the consent or grant the consent with or without conditions. If Council is to grant the consent it needs to be satisfied that the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor or the application is for an activity that will not be contrary to the objections and policies of the District Plan including any proposed Plan or Plan Changes.

The Resource Management Act 1991 details the time frames and procedures for determining resource consent applications. The time it takes for a resource consent application will vary depending on the complexity of the application, whether or not you have provided us with sufficient information, and staff workload. It would be wise to take this into consideration when planning your development. If your application is notified it is advisable for you to maintain contact with the Planner responsible for the application.

A non-notified application should be decided within 20 working days or we may double this time to 40 working days if, special circumstances apply and the applicant agrees to the extension. Notified applications take longer as hearings are usually convened. It can take at least three-four months for a decision to be issued. For notified applications the process is as follows: You should be notified within 10 working days that your application is to be notified.

The public notification period is 20 working days to allow affected persons or the public to assess the application at the Council Customer Service Centres and make a submission. If no submissions are received a decision will be made on the application within fifteen working days of the submission closure date. If submissions are received and the submitters wish to be heard a hearing date will be set within 25 working days of the final submission date. The hearing will be before either the Council's Hearing Committee or an independent Commissioner or Commissioners appointed by the Council.

A Notice of Decision must be issued within 15 working days of the hearing completion date. Applications can be limited or fully notified (publicly notified). Limited notification occurs when an affected party has not signed the affected party consent form. Full notification occurs when the environmental effects are considered to be more widespread and more than minor.

For resource consent applications that are publicly notified any person who wishes to do so can make a submission on an application within 20 working days of the date of the public notification. For applications that have been limited notified only those persons who have been notified as affected parties can make submissions. Submissions must be made in writing using the form prescribed by the legislation. You may obtain the form from the Council's Customer Service Centre. More information about making a submission on a resource consent can be found on our Making a Submission page.

Issuing of your Resource Consent

The decision advising you whether your consent has been granted or declined will be issued and sent to the address for service. You will be invoiced for any outstanding monies due at the time of the consent being issued. If the Resource Consent is granted it may be granted with conditions that either mitigate or bring your application into line with the relevant District Plan rules. The conditions are aimed at reducing potential adverse effects and the protection and enhancement of the environment. Conditions may include provision for:

  • The entering into of a bond or bonds for works required
  • The provision of on site car parking Landscaping
  • The control of noise levels Restrictions on the days and hours of operation.
  • Formation of entranceways to Council standards
  • Connection to services and disposal of stormwater onsite.

When can you proceed with your proposed activity/development?

For a non-notified application you may proceed with the approved activity upon receipt of your Resource Consent Notice of Decision. For notified applications an appeal period of 15 working days applies from date the decision notice is received. If the decision is in your favour you may proceed with the approved activity only after the appeal period has elapsed with no appeal having been lodged. As the applicant you have a right of appeal if the decision is against your application. If you decide to do this you must file the appeal with the Environment Court within 15 working days of the notice of decision being received. When an appeal is lodged you cannot proceed with the activity that is the subject of the appeal until the court notifies its decision. Note: It can take over 10 months for the Environment Court to consider and determine an appeal.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 the Council must monitor the exercise of Resource Consents, compliance with the consent conditions of the resource consent and their impact on the environment. You can assist by adhering to your consent conditions. Early consultation and liaison with a Council Planning Officer may avoid compliance problems. Not all consents will have conditions requiring monitoring. Resource Consents needing monitoring will have an inspection. Additional charges may be imposed where additional site visits and inspections are necessary. To see the schedule of fees and charges visit our Fees and Charges section. You can contact a Planning Officer on telephone (06) 366 0999 or email

The Resource Management Act 1991 provides mechanisms to deal with non-compliance with a Resource Consent. These include: The issue of an Infringement Notice, Abatement Notice or Enforcement Order Prosecution in the District Court. Under the Act the court may impose a fine of up to $300,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years and where the offence continues it may impose an additional fine of up to $1000 per day for each day on which the offence continues. In addition to those penalties you may be required to contribute to or pay all of the costs incurred by Council in taking the enforcement action. If you believe some person is acting in breach of either the Resource Management Act 1991 generally or the conditions of a Resource Consent discuss your concerns with a Council Consents Officer on telephone (06) 366 099