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Time

 

This section provides information on timeframes for processing resource consent applications. Specifically, it reports on:

  • application completeness checks by local authorities
  • resource consent applications processed within statutory time limits
  • notified, limited-notified, and non-notified resource consents processed within time limits
  • use of section 37 to extend time limits.

The timeframes used in this survey to define whether an application was processed within time are described in sections 88B, 95, 97, 101 and 115 of the Resource Management Act (RMA). If one part of the consent process falls outside the statutory time for that phase, but the entire consent is processed within the overall upper time limit, it is considered as processed within time.

Application completeness checks by local authorities

Local authorities were asked whether or not they checked applications for completeness within one working day of the application arriving at their office.

In 2005/2006, 59% (50) of local authorities checked for completeness within one working day. This compares to 76% of local authorities in 2003/2004 and 72% in 2001/2002. The local authorities adopting this good practice are listed in Appendix 5.

Checking for completeness involves a scan of the application to determine if all the information required to process the application is included. It does not involve checking the information provided for accuracy or assessing whether further information is required. It is good practice for local authorities to check resource consent applications are complete within one working day of the application arriving at the local authority office.

If an application is not actually complete then it should not be processed as an application for the purposes of section 88 of the Act. Local authorities should return these to the applicants, and if the application is lodged again it should be treated as a new application. The Resource Management Amendment Act 2003 amended section 88(3) of the RMA to state that a local authority can return deficient applications to the applicant within five working days of receiving them.

Formal receipt of applications by local authorities

Local authorities were asked whether they formally receive resource consent applications (i.e. start the time limit clock) within one full working day. The time limit clock begins as soon as the application is received which should be on the date the application is first lodged with the local authority (i.e. when it physically arrives at the counter).

In 2005/2006, 79% (67) of local authorities formally received applications within one working day. This compares to 84% of local authorities in 2003/2004 and 88% in 2001/2002. The local authorities adopting this good practice procedure are listed in Appendix 5.

Resource consent applications processed within statutory time limits

Local authorities were asked for the number of consents of each type processed within statutory time limits. This includes resource consents where the time limits were formally extended by local authorities under section 37 of the RMA.

In 2005/2006, 73% of all resource consents were processed within statutory time limits. This compares to 77% in 2003/2004 and 82% in 2001/2002. Table 9 presents a time-series of each consent type processed within statutory time limits. Compared to the previous survey, water and discharge consents increased in the proportion processed within time. The other categories (subdivision, land-use and coastal) all decreased in the proportion processed within time.

Table 9: Percentage of consents processed within statutory time limits by consent type

Survey period

Subdivision

Land-use

Coastal

Water

Discharge

Total

1999/2000 (n=83)

79%

87%

62%

67%

73%

82%

2001/2002 (n=86)

79%

85%

86%

63%

75%

82%

2003/2004 (n=86)

74%

78%

82%

60%

79%

77%

2005/2006 (n=84)

66%

75%

81%

74%

80%

73%

Source: RMA survey of local authorities 2005/2006 and 2003/2004, questions 2.1-2.3; 2001/2002, questions 2.7-2.8; and 1999/2000, questions 2.8-2.9.

Notified, limited-notified, and non-notified resource consents processed within time limits

Local authorities were asked for the number of notified, limited notification or non-notified consents that they processed within statutory time limits. This includes resource consents where the time limits were formally extended by local authorities under section 37 of the RMA.

In 2005/2006, 56% of notified resource consents were processed within statutory time limits. For limited notification consents it was 60% and for non-notified consents it was 74%. Regional councils processed 86% of resource consents within statutory time limits compared to 71% for territorial authorities and 58% for unitary authorities.

Table 10: Percentage of consents processed within statutory time limits by local authority type

Local authority type

Notified

Limited notified

Non-notified

Total

2003/2004 ( n=86 )

2005/2006 ( n=84 )

2003/2004 ( n=86 )

2005/2006 ( n=84 )

2003/2004 ( n=86 )

2005/2006 ( n=84 )

2003/2004 ( n=86 )

2005/2006 ( n=84 )

Regional

67%

70%

78%

70%

85%

87%

84%

86%

Territorial

56%

48%

73%

63%

77%

71%

76%

71%

Unitary

38%

49%

82%

34%

66%

60%

61%

58%

All

56%

56%

74%

60%

78%

74%

77%

73%

Source: RMA survey of local authorities 2005/2006 and 2003/2004, questions 2.1-2.3

Appendix 4 provides a full summary of the percentage of notified, limited notified and non-notified consents processed by individual local authorities within time.

Use of section 37 to extend time limits

Local authorities were asked whether they used section 37 to extend time limits:

  • section 37A(2)(a) provides for the time limit specified in the Resource Management Act to be exceeded but not by more than twice the maximum specified in the Act
  • section 37A(2)(b) allows a local authority to extend a time limit by more than twice the maximum time period specified in the Act if the applicant agrees or requests.

In 2005/2006, 82% (70) of local authorities used section 37 to extend time limits and it was used for 17% of the total consents processed. This compares to 13% of total consents processed in 2003/2004 and 6% in 2001/2002. The local authorities adopting this good practice procedure are listed in Appendix 5.

It is considered good practice to use sections 37 and 37A to extend timeframes rather than allow them to run overtime without any clear guidance being given to the applicant or other interested parties as to when new timeframes have been set.

Note, however, that extensions of time should only be used where there are good reasons and the delay in processing the application is beyond the control of the consent authority. It is good practice to keep the number of extensions to timeframes to a bare minimum so that sections 37-37A use is restricted to those occasions when further consultation, negotiation, analysis or consideration of very complex applications is required.