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3. Statutory Framework

3.1 Introduction

As noted in Section 1, the Minister called-in Transpower’s NOR and applications for resource consent under s 141A of the RMA after considering the proposal to be a matter of national significance. Section 141B(2) of the RMA provides guidelines for establishing whether the threshold of national significance is met.

Section 141B(2) states:

141B Minister's power to call in matters that are or are part of proposals of national significance

(2) In deciding whether a matter is or is part of a proposal of national significance, the Minister may have regard to any relevant factor, including whether the matter—

(a) has aroused widespread public concern or interest regarding its actual or likely effect on the environment, including the global environment; or

(b) involves or is likely to involve significant use of natural and physical resources; or

(c) affects or is likely to affect any structure, feature, place, or area of national significance; or

(d) affects or is likely to affect more than one region or district; or

(e) affects or is likely to affect or is relevant to New Zealand's international obligations to the global environment; or

(f) involves or is likely to involve technology, processes, or methods which are new to New Zealand and which may affect the environment; or

(g) results or is likely to result in or contribute to significant or irreversible changes to the environment, including the global environment; or

(h) is or is likely to be significant in terms of section 8 (Treaty of Waitangi).

Section 141C provides the form and effect of the Ministers direction:

141C Form and effect of Minister's direction

A direction by the Minister under section 141B(1) must—

(a) be in writing signed by the Minister; and

(b) state the reasons for calling the matter in; and

(c) be served on the local authority that would have been required to process and decide the matter if the Minister had not made the direction; and

(d) be served,—

(i) if the matter has not yet come before the local authority, as soon as practicable after the direction is made:

(ii) if the matter has come before the local authority and no hearing is to be held on it, before the authority notifies its decision or recommendation on the matter:

(iii) if the matter has come before the local authority and a hearing is to be held on it, at least 5 working days before the date fixed for the commencement of the hearing.

In regard to Sections 141 B(2) and 141C(b) the Minister called in the applications by Transpower on the grounds that the proposal:

  • Aroused widespread public concern and interest regarding its actual or likely effect on the environment.
  • Involves the significant use of natural and physical resources.
  • Affects more than one region or district.
  • Involves technology, processes or methods which are new to New Zealand and which may affect the environment.
  • Is likely to result in or contribute to significant or irreversible changes to the environment.

The proposal was ‘called-in’ before a hearing date was fixed with the relevant local authorities, in accordance with s 141C(d).

Section 147 of the RMA outlines the guidelines to be followed by the Board of Inquiry appointed under s 146. Sections 101(1) to (3) apply as if the Board of Inquiry were a consent authority. The Board has the same powers and duties as a local authority and territorial authority under s 147(5) in respect to the resource consent applications and s 147(8) in respect to the NOR.

S 147 Conduct of Inquiry

(5) A board of inquiry considering a matter that is an application for a resource consent-

(a) has the same powers and duties as a local authority, except that the board—

(i) may permit cross-examination; and

(ii) must keep a full record of its hearings; and

(b) must apply sections 37, 92, and 104 to 112 as if it were a consent authority.

(8) A board of inquiry considering a matter that is a notice of requirement under any of sections 168, 168A, 189, and 189A—

(a) has the same powers as a territorial authority, except that the board—

(i) may permit cross-examination; and

(ii) must keep a full record of its hearings; and

(b) must apply sections 37, 169 to 171, and 175 as if it were a territorial authority; and

(c) must apply section 173 as if it were a territorial authority, except that its statement of the time within which an appeal may be lodged must say that the appeal is under section 149A; and

(d) must consider whether to confirm the requirement, modify it, impose conditions on it, or withdraw it; and

(e) for the purposes of paragraph (d), has the same powers as—

(i) a requiring authority under section 172; or

(ii) a heritage protection authority under section 192.

As provided for in s 147, the Board is to apply sections 37, 92, and 104 to 112 to the resource consent applications, and sections 37, 169 to 171, and 175 to the NOR.

Sections 4 and 5 of this report set out the RMA framework for the NOR and resource consent applications, and the adequacy of information provided by Transpower in that regard.