Assessing the application and assessment of environmental effects

This note has been updated for 2017 and 2020 amendments but not updated for best practice.

An application for resource consent requires the applicant to supply an assessment of environmental effects (AEE). The council's role is to assess the AEE to ensure it meets the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). This guidance note provides information about assessing an application once it has been formally 'received' by the council and recording the assessment. 

It is important to carry out a completeness check of the application to ensure it is in the prescribed form and manner and the AEE meets the requirements in Schedule 4 of the RMA prior to accepting it under s88. This encourages good quality applications, which in turn assists in assessing the applications once received and to meet statutory time frames. 

The completeness check of the application and AEE is important as the RMA requires a councils to immediately return applications if it has determined that it is incomplete (section s88(3A)). There is a 10 working day timeframe for councils to determine whether to accept an application or return it as incomplete. This recognises more time might be needed for the completeness check for particular applications and due to the more comprehensive information requirements of Schedule 4. It also reflects the importance of only accepting complete applications to avoid delays in the long run.