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Frequently asked questions

Resource Management

What is a Nationally Significant Proposal (NSP)?

To be processed as an NSP under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), an application must be considered by the Minister for the Environment and/or Minister of Conservation to be a proposal, or part of a proposal, of national significance (i.e. to have national importance or effect in some way).

You can find details of recent NSPs and decisions on the EPA website

Who makes the decision on national significance?

The Minister for the Environment considers whether a land-based proposal is of national significance. The Minister of Conservation considers a coastal proposal. The Ministers work together to consider a proposal covering both land and coastal matters.

What factors do the Minister(s) consider for an NSP?

Factors that the Minister(s) consider when deciding if a proposal is nationally significant may relate to, for example, widespread public concern or interest; significant use of resources or irreversible changes to the environment; significant in terms of the Treaty of Waitangi; will assist the Crown in fulfilling its functions; affects more than one region or district; or relates to a network utility operation.

The Minister(s) must also consider the views of the Applicant, views of the relevant Local Authorities, and the EPA’s recommendation.

The Minister(s) then consider whether the matters should be referred to a Board of Inquiry (BOI), the Environment Court or the Local Authority to make the decision on whether to approve the application.

What is the role of the EPA?

​Aside from receiving and initially processing the application, including making a recommendation on national significance, the EPA provides secretarial and support services if the proposal is directed to a BOI. Any correspondence to and from the BOI will usually be through the EPA on their behalf.

What is the role of the Local Authority (Council)?

​The EPA is required to commission the relevant local and regional councils with jurisdiction over the proposal area to prepare a report on the key planning issues. This report is usually available during the submission period. A copy of the key issues report is provided to the applicant, submitters (once known), and the decision maker.

Councils may also make a formal submission on the proposal as a submitter. To maintain appropriate separation, any council submission must not be prepared by the same person who prepared the key issues report.

Will I get to have a say on the proposal if it is referred to a BOI?

Yes. If the proposal is directed to a Board of Inquiry the whole proposal will be publicly notified by the EPA and open for submissions for 20 working days.  Any interested parties are invited to become part of the process. Only those people who make a written submission will be considered to be “parties” to the proposal.

Submitters wanting to be heard at the hearing don’t have to provide all the evidence to support their position at this time. This can happen during the evidence exchange part of the process.

How does any public consultation process work?

​The EPA does not undertake public consultation for NSPs. The applicant, NZTA, has engaged in a public consultation process before lodging the application, including considering alternative options.

I am directly affected by the proposal, will I be directly notified?

Yes. The EPA is required to serve a copy of the public notice and Minister(s) direction on land owners and occupiers within and adjoining the proposal area.

All other potentially affected or interested parties can look out for the public notice or check the EPA website

How do I make a submission?

The easiest way to make a submission is via our online form at www.epa.govt.nz. You can also post in a hard copy submission form.

How long will submissions be open?

​Submissions will open for 20 working days from the date of the first public notice.

Your submission must be received by the EPA by 5pm on that last day of the submission period noted in the public notice.

Where can I find out more about the submission process?

The submission process is much the same as that for a typical council consent application. You will need to state whether you broadly support, oppose, or are neutral regarding all or any of the matters proposed, and the reasons for your views. You will also need to state whether you wish to speak to your submission at the hearing.

You can find out more about the submission process, including tips for writing a clear and concise submission, here.

What support is there for submitters?

​The EPA has appointed a “Friend of Submitter”. This is an independent expert planner appointed to provide potential submitters with information and guidance on the BOI process, but not to provide advice on the merits of the proposal or the content of a submission.

The Friend of Submitter is a free service available to those who wish to use it.

The Friend of Submitter is Michael Campbell, from Campbell Brown based in Auckland. His contact details and a schedule of “drop-in sessions” in the local area will available around the time of public notification.

Can I engage experts to support my submission?

Yes. This will be at your own cost.

Experts must be able to comply with the Code of Conduct for an Expert Witness.

What happens next?

​The BOI will release its inquiry procedures, including an indicative timetable for evidence exchange, facilitation and conferencing, holding the hearing, deliberations, and writing the decision report.

EPA staff will be in regular contact advising of BOI minutes and directions and any changes to the timetable. Closer to the hearing the EPA will release a hearing schedule for submitters who have requested to be heard.

Hearings typically last from several weeks to several months. If you cannot attend the hearing on your scheduled day we will try to arrange an alternative time but unfortunately this cannot be guaranteed.

Where will the hearing be held?

​The hearing will usually be held close to the proposal area. The BOI will set the time and location of the hearing venue in advance.

How long will it be before a decision is made?

​There is a statutory nine month timeframe for the BOI process to be completed and a final decision provided to the EPA.

The nine month period starts on the day the public notice is published.

Can I comment on the draft decision?

​Yes. The EPA will invite minor or technical comments on the draft decision from parties. Comments are forwarded to the BOI and then considered before the BOI releases its final decision and report.

The draft decision is open for comment for 20 working days for the date of the EPA invitation.

Can I appeal the decision?

​Yes, but you can only appeal to the High Court on points of law.

Unlike typical council hearings there are no “merit” appeals to the Environment Court.

Where can I find out more information?

More information can be found on the EPA website.

East West Link proposal

What is the East West Link roading proposal?

The proposal consists of notices and requirement for designations and resource consent applications by the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) for the construction, operation and maintenance of a new arterial road linking State Highways 1 and 20, including coastal reclamation of the Mangere Inlet.

You can view the application on the NZTA website.

Why is the East West Link considered to be an NSP? 

The application by NZTA was assessed against specific criteria to determine whether it is a proposal of national significance. It has been jointly directed by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Conservations to be of national significance and referred to an independent Board of Inquiry (BOI) because it:

  • has aroused widespread public concern or interest regarding its actual or likely effect on the environment, including the global environment
  • involves or is likely to involve significant use of natural and physical resources
  • affects or is likely to affect a structure, feature, place, or area of national significance
  • results or is likely to result in or contribute to significant or irreversible changes to the environment, including the global environment
  • is or is likely to be significant in terms of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • will assist the Government in fulfilling its public health, welfare, security, or safety obligations or functions
  • affects or is likely to affect more than one region or district

Is the proposal a ‘done deal’?

The Minister of the Environment and the Minister for Conservation jointly directed that the East West Link is a proposal of national significance and referred it to an independent BOI.

The BOI will base its decision on the merits of the proposal and in accordance with the RMA decision making process. They will consider all the evidence and public submissions presented to it as part of the process.

The BOI’s decision on whether to approve the application is made independent of both the EPA and the Government.

Can I make a submission?

Yes. The application is likely to be publically notified in mid to late February 2017.

Northern Corridor Improvements proposal

What is the Northern Corridor Improvements proposal?

The Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) proposal provides the final motorway connection for the Western Ring Route Project.  It includes direct motorway interchange connections between State Highway 1 (SH1) and State Highway 18 (SH18), and capacity and safety improvements on SH1 between Constellation Drive and Oteha Valley Road, and on SH18 between SH1 and Albany Highway. The proposal also includes an extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to the Albany Bus Station, reconfiguration of Constellation Bus Station, and the addition of shared use paths along the length of the proposal area.

You can view the application on the NZTA website.

Why is the Northern Corridor Improvements considered to be an NSP?

The application by NZTA was assessed against specific criteria to determine whether it is a proposal of national significance. It has been directed by the Minister for the Environment to be of national significance and referred to an independent Board of Inquiry (BOI) because it:

  • has aroused widespread public concern or interest regarding its actual or likely effect on the environment, including the global environment
  • involves or is likely to involve significant use of natural and physical resources
  • affects or is likely to affect a structure, feature, place, or area of national significance
  • results or is likely to result in or contribute to significant or irreversible changes to the environment, including the global environment
  • will assist the Government  in fulfilling its public health, welfare, security, or safety obligations or functions

Is the proposal a ‘done deal’?

The Minister of the Environment directed that the Northern Corridor Improvements is a proposal of national significance and referred it to an independent BOI. The BOI will base its decision on the merits of the proposal and in accordance with the RMA decision making process. They will consider all the evidence and public submissions presented to it as part of the process. The BOI’s decision on whether to approve the application is made independent of both the EPA and the Government.

Can I make a submission?

Yes. The application is likely to be publically notified in mid to late February 2017.

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