Limiting the Duration of Consent

The basic consent duration provisions are specified in s123. The duration of consent is often used as a method to address uncertainty about adverse effects for consents other than land use or subdivision consents and coastal permits for reclamation (which have unlimited duration).

When a consent duration condition is being considered, regard should be given to:

  • the intended duration of an activity or structure, and

  • the sensitivity of a receiving environment over time.

A condition limiting the duration of a consent to a short-term period, may not be the best way to address uncertainty about an adverse effect. Assuming that there is no further information that would reduce the uncertainties and that they are not so significant that the consent application should be declined, a range of adaptive management, monitoring/reporting and review conditions may at times be more appropriate.

If a short-term consent condition is proposed it must be accompanied by monitoring and reporting conditions so as to avoid a repetition of the consent process with a replacement consent being applied for with incomplete information, which could lead to a series of short-term consents being granted.

A replacement consent application is not considered on exactly the same basis as a new application; the investment in a development involving an application for a replacement consent must be given specific regard under s104(2A). This raises a particular challenge when short-term consent applications are made for major long-term developments.

The wording of a consent duration condition should ensure that it is clear whether for example, the intent is for a consent to expire on a specific date or for the consent to have a specific duration. If a specific duration is intended then the following wording can be used: “The duration of this consent is X years from the date of commencement”. This wording ensures that there is no ambiguity about the duration if there is an appeal and can be complemented by the council adding the actual dates to the consent document.

Alternatively a lapse date condition could be used as follows: “The lapsing date for the purposes of Section 125 of the Resource Management Act 1991 shall be XYZ”.