Hearings

What you need to know about the resource consent hearing process, and how you can be best prepared.

A hearing is a formal part of the resource consent submission process that gives the applicant, and all submitters who stated in their submission that they wished to be heard, the opportunity to formally present their views to a hearing commissioner/s.

Pre-hearing meetings

In some cases, it may be appropriate for a pre-hearing meeting to be arranged by us to provide a forum for discussion between the resource consent applicant and submitters.  These meetings can be useful to clarify a matter or issue, or facilitate resolution of a matter or issue.

We encourage applicants and submitters to consider the option of a pre-hearing meeting in instances where there is the potential to resolve issues of concern, or an ability to narrow the areas of disagreement to be considered at the formal hearing.

Hearings

If a hearing is required, the Council will appoint a Hearing Commissioner/s to hear the views and evidence of the parties, and to make a decision on the application.  Hearings are predominately run by Independent Commissioners but where a panel of three commissioners is required an Internal Commissioner may be included.

What happens before a hearing?

  • All parties will receive notice of the date, time and venue for the hearing at least 10 working days beforehand.
  • The Council planner’s report and recommendations on the application will be circulated to the applicant and to all submitters who indicated that they wished to speak at the hearing at least 15 working days before the hearing is held.
  • Applicants must provide all their evidence to the Council 10 working days before the hearing.
  • Submitters calling expert evidence must provide that evidence to the applicant and the Council 5 working days before the hearing.
  • We may be able to provide presentation equipment for you to use, e.g. a laptop and projector.  Anyone wishing to use such equipment should contact us at least 5 working days before the hearing to make these arrangements.

What happens at a hearing?

  • The Hearing Commissioner (or the chair if there are more than one) opens the hearing, introduces the parties involved, identifies the application being considered and decides on any administrative details such as the hearing timetable, specific requests, etc.
  • The applicant (or their representatives) then presents their application and calls any experts they may have to provide evidence in support of their application.
  • Submitters are then given the opportunity to present their submissions. They will have the opportunity to use experts or representatives to provide evidence in relation to their submission if they wish.
  • The Hearing Commissioner/s may then have questions to ask the Council reporting planner and the Council experts, and/or provide them an opportunity to respond to anything they have heard during the hearing.
  • The applicant then has the right of reply, to respond to any issues raised during the hearing.  In some instances the applicant may request that a written right of reply be provided at a later date (to be set by the Hearing Commissioner) if there are issues that require further attention.
  • After the applicant has completed their reply, whether on the day or at a later date set by the Hearing Commissioner, the hearing will then be officially closed. 
  • In some circumstances the Hearing Commissioner may decide to adjourn the hearing to allow time for further information to be provided, or for further consultation to occur.

Important points to note

  • The Hearing Commissioner/s may address questions to any of the parties at any stage of the hearing.
  • No cross-examination of parties is allowed. In some cases, at the discretion of the Hearing Commissioner, other parties may seek clarification of particular points by asking questions through the Hearing Commissioner.
  • The applicant's right of reply must be confined to matters arising out of the evidence or any legal points that require clarification. No new issues may be introduced at this stage.

Ministry for the Environment explains the formal process for giving appearing at a hearing, and has a guide to help you do well on the day.