Delays in processing resource consent applications

FIRST PUBLISHED: 21 April 2022

We are experiencing delays in processing resource consent applications due to staffing challenges and the increasing complexity of applications.

We are experiencing delays in processing resource consent applications due to staffing challenges and the increasing complexity of applications.

Consent applications are in backlog. This means we are unable to process the most recently lodged applications as the team already has a full workload. Until staffing returns to normal, we may not meet the statutory processing timeframes for resource consent applications.

Our pre-application advice service has been paused, but we are planning to resume this service in early December 2022.

New and existing applications affected

The backlog will affect people who are applying for new consents, seeking renewals or variations to existing consents, or those needing pre-application advice.

Delays should be expected in initial contact and longer-than-usual processing times.

We are still accepting applications, but they will be queued until they can be processed. Applicants will also receive updates from the consents team regarding their applications.

Will this affect the consent application fee?

Consent applications are a user-pays service where the applicant creates the need for the activity.

We will continue to charge fees in accordance with our Fees and Charges Policy (PDF File, 468KB).

In some cases, applicants may be entitled to a partial rebate of costs in accordance with statutory requirements.

We must refund up to 50% of processing fees if statutory timeframes aren’t met on individual consents. This is calculated as a refund of 1% per day to a maximum of 50 working days.

Our consent process

We process the most resource consent applications of any regional council in Aotearoa/New Zealand - between 1500 and 2200 each year - with 1000 to 1200 applications in the system at any one time.

Protecting the environment is always our top priority. We are committed to working with mana whenua, farmers and the wider community to ensure Canterbury’s environment is maintained and enhanced.

Our consents team will continue to take the time needed to fully understand the potential effects of every resource consent application we receive. We want the best outcome for the environment and the community.

We are taking action to tackle these staff shortages and clear the backlog, by increasing number of planners, providing more administration support, reinstating the preapplication service, outsourcing processing and ensuring our employment package is competitive in a challenging labour market.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to ensure my consent is processed efficiently?

Taking the time to ensure your resource consent application is clear and contains all the required information will help ensure processing is as efficient as possible. 

We have guidance on our website here to help you prepare your application.

What if my consent is about to expire?

If your consent is about to expire, you should still lodge an application for renewal, as this will prevent your continuation rights from potentially being impacted.

You will be advised of the delay at the time of lodging the application. We are also informing consultants and stakeholders.

Will the environment still be protected?

Yes. Consent holders with existing permits are required to operate in accordance with the conditions of their current consent, until their new application has been processed and a decision made, or they risk non-compliance action.

Continuation rights provide this for applicants even when there is not a backlog.

For new applications, an activity is not able to legally occur until an application has been decided and granted.

Are compliance and auditing impacted?

The Covid-19 staffing issues will not impact our compliance and auditing responsibilities.

Can activities under existing resource consent permits continue?

Yes. If you have an existing permission you must follow the consent conditions until your new application has been processed and a decision made.

Continuation rights provide this for all applicants with existing consents even when there is not a backlog.

Can activities for new consent applications begin?

No. If you are applying for a new resource consent, you cannot legally start the activity until permission has been granted.

Will you continue to engage with rūnanga on consent applications?

Yes. Once a consent application is assigned to a planner we will follow our usual process, which includes requesting advice through Tangata Whenua Advisory Services.

We cannot proceed in consent processing without advice from our partners.