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Hui whakaaetanga taiao

Resource consent hearings

A hearing is a formal public meeting to consider resource consent applications and other RMA matters.

Resource consent hearings provide an opportunity for the applicant and the submitters to present their case to a neutral independent hearing commissioner before a decision or recommendation is made. Only the commissioner may ask questions of witnesses, no cross-examination is permitted.

Hearings are only held for notified applications, where one or more submissions have been received. A hearing will not be held if the applicant or submitters do not wish to be heard. The cost of the hearing will be borne by the applicant.

The cost of the hearing will be borne by the applicant when:

  • a hearing panel decides the resource consent application
  • an independent hearings commissioner is required.

If a submitter requires that an independent hearings commissioner be used, the applicant and submitter share the cost. 

Planning fees and charges

Who will be at the hearing?

The hearings panel - made up of Councillors and/or independent commissioners.  They listen to the evidence and make the final decision. 
Applicant - the person who is applying for a resource consent.
Applicant's lawyer or planner – an advocate (often a lawyer) is employed by the client to represent their interests. Advocates are not expert witnesses and do not give evidence. A planner is still required to be impartial.
Submitters – the people who are affected by the proposal.
Expert witnesses - people who present evidence on particular subjects, such as planning, noise, traffic, or ecological effects. 
Council planner – the staff member who is available to comment on any of the evidence given at the Hearing. 
Hearings secretary – the staff member who provides administration support and minutes the hearings.
Public - hearings are a public forum, so members of the public may also attend.

Appearing at a hearing

The hearing gives you the chance to explain your submission to the hearings panel and present evidence that supports your submission.

What is evidence?

Evidence is anything that backs up your statement.  Evidence can be oral, written or visual (photographs and drawings).  It should focus on fact and directly relate to your submission.

Who can speak at a hearing?

  • members of the hearings panel
  • the applicants and their witnesses
  • Council staff
  • the submitter and any supporting witnesses.

If you have not lodged a submission, you cannot speak. 

Tips for the day of the hearing

  • read your statement clearly and slowly enough to be understood
  • focus on the environmental matters, not simply what you like and dislike
  • elaborate on your submission but don't introduce any new issues
  • if you are nervous about speaking you can use a spokesperson or advocate
  • think about using a lawyer as your advocate if your submission explores legal matters.

More information

For more information about getting ready for the hearing, providing evidence before the hearing and what happens at the hearing see:

Resource consent hearings information (1.6mb pdf)

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