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Executive Summary

 

The purpose of the Resource Management Act Survey of Local Authorities is to provide core information about resource consent processes carried out by local authorities under the Resource Management Act (RMA) and to provide a measure of comparative performance. The 2005/2006 survey asked all 85 local authorities a number of questions about seven aspects of resource consent processing: numbers and types of resource consents processed; time taken to process resource consents; charges to applicants for resource consent applications; good practice in resource consent processing; monitoring, compliance and enforcement; Māori participation in RMA processes; and plan changes and variations.

This executive summary provides a snapshot of the 2005/2006 survey results and compares them to the 2003/2004 survey results where possible. It is organised under the chapter headings so you can refer to the relevant chapter for the full results. The full results include breakdowns by council type and consent type where relevant, and earlier survey comparisons where possible.

Resource consent processing

  • 51,768 resource consents were processed through to a decision over the 2005/2006 financial year, a 5% (2,890) decrease from the 54,658 consents processed in 2003/2004.
  • 1,097 certificates of compliance were processed during the 2005/2006 financial year, a 12% (154) decrease from the 1,251 processed in 2003/2004.
  • 3,438 applications for changes to resource consent conditions were processed through to a decision in 2005/2006, compared to 2,223 applications in 2003/2004.
  • 4.1% (2,129) of resource consents were publicly notified in 2005/2006, a decrease from the 4.8% (2,628) notified in 2003/2004.
  • 1.5% (768) of resource consents were notified to affected parties only (limited notification) in 2005/2006, an increase from the 0.7% (373) that used limited notification in 2003/2004. Limited notification was introduced part of the way through the 2003/2004 year.
  • In 2005/2006, 19% of resource consents processed through to a decision were for controlled activities, 49% for discretionary activities, 25% for restricted discretionary activities and 7% for non-complying activities.
  • Further information was requested for 32% (16,760) of resource consent applications processed in 2005/2006, down from 35% of applications in 2003/2004.
  • 518 pre-hearing meetings were held in 2005/2006 and 28% (144) of them resolved issues so that no hearing was required - an increase from 25% of pre-hearing meetings in 2003/2004.
  • Local authority officers acting under delegated authority made 87% of the decisions on resource consent applications in 2005/2006, the same percentage as for 2003/2004.
  • 0.69% (357) of resource consent applications processed were declined in 2005/2006 - a slight decrease from the 0.74% (404) of applications declined in 2003/2004.
  • 1.0% (543) of resource consent decisions were appealed to the Environment Court - a decrease from the 1.2% (651) that were appealed in 2003/2004.

Time

  • 59% of local authorities checked resource consent applications for completeness within one full working day in 2005/2006, compared to 76% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 79% of local authorities formally received resource consent applications (i.e. started processing the consent) within one full working day of their arrival at the local authority office in 2005/2006, compared to 84% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 73% of all resource consent applications were processed within statutory time limits in 2005/2006, compared to 77% in 2003/2004.
  • 56% of all publicly notified resource consent applications were processed within statutory time limits in 2005/2006, the same percentage as in 2003/2004.
  • 60% of all resource consent applications that went through limited notification were processed within statutory time limits in 2005/2006, compared to 74% in 2003/2004.
  • 74% of all non-notified resource consent applications were processed within statutory time limits in 2005/2006, compared to 78% in 2003/2004.
  • Section 37 was used to extend statutory time limits for 17% of the total resource consent applications processed in 2005/2006, compared to 13% in 2003/2004.

Charges to resource consent applicants

  • The average median charges for resource consent processing generally increased between 2003/2004 and 2005/2006. The amount of the increase varied depending on the type of consent and issuing authority.

Good practice in resource consent processing

  • 89% of local authorities in 2005/2006 defined the environmental effects that must be addressed in resource consent applications for controlled and restricted discretionary activities. This compares to 90% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 95% of local authorities in 2005/2006 provided applicants with the opportunity to discuss or dispute the requirements to provide such further information and/or obtain it themselves before commissioning specialist reports. This compares to 91% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 76% of local authorities in 2005/2006 followed a structured process to check that environmental effects are adequately identified and addressed in assessments of environmental effects. This compares to 69% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 61% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had internal guidance notes or checklists available to help staff determine when to notify an application. This compares to 65% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 59% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had internal guidance notes or checklists available to staff on how to identify potentially affected parties. This compares to 57% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • In 2005/2006, all 85 local authorities monitored whether consents are processed within statutory time limits and 79% of them undertook formal monitoring and reporting of consent processing performance, the results of which were made available to ratepayers.
  • 29% of local authorities undertook surveys of customer satisfaction with resource consent processes in 2005/2006. Of the councils who undertook surveys, 92% reported that the majority of customers were satisfied or very satisfied.

Monitoring, compliance and enforcement

  • 57% of local authorities in 2005/2006 monitored the state of the environment and 36% reported on it.
  • 56% of local authorities in 2005/2006 monitored the suitability and effectiveness of policies and plans and 32% reported on it.
  • 47% of local authorities in 2005/2006 monitored functions they had delegated or transferred to other agencies and 33% reported on them.
  • 93% of local authorities in 2005/2006 monitored compliance with resource consent conditions and 55% reported on it.
  • 74% of resource consents monitored in 2005/2006 fully complied with their resource consent conditions, the same percentage as for 2003/2004.
  • 84% of local authorities in 2005/2006 monitored complaints and 55% reported on them.
  • 109,964 complaints were recorded in 2005/2006, compared to 117,655 complaints in 2003/2004.
  • 56% of complaints in 2005/2006 were resolved through informal means rather than regulatory action.
  • 63% of breaches of consent conditions in 2005/2006 were resolved using informal means.
  • 1,507 infringement notices were issued in 2005/2006, up from 1,157 in 2003/2004.

Māori participation in RMA processes

  • 38% of local authorities in 2005/2006 made a budgetary commitment to Māori/iwi participation in resource management processes. This compares to 56% in 2003/2004.
  • 59% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had written criteria or a set policy to guide staff in determining when tangata whenua should be considered an affected party to resource consent applications and be notified of the proposal. This compares to 65% of local authorities in 2003/2004.
  • 89% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had standard resource consent conditions which cover the discovery of significant sites or items to tangata whenua.
  • 21% of local authorities in 2005/2006 involved tangata whenua in resource consent monitoring.
  • 61% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had formal memorandum of understandings, protocols, joint management agreements or service level agreements with tangata whenua and 54% had informal arrangements.
  • 96% of local authorities in 2005/2006 provided advice or an indication to resource consent applicants that their proposals may by of interest/concern to iwi/hapu.
  • 32% of local authorities in 2005/2006 had a policy requiring a cultural impact assessment as part of the resource consent application when a site, species or resource is of concern to tangata whenua.

Plan changes and variations

  • 127 council initiated plan changes and 20 privately initiated plan changes were completed in 2005/2006. Eleven were declined or withdrawn.
  • 37 variations to proposed plans were completed in 2005/2006. Two variations were declined or withdrawn.