In relation to resource consent applications and policy statements or plans, parties must agree to mediation. For disputes on a policy statement or plan the mediation must specifically be conducted by an independent mediator. For resource consents, mediation must be conducted by a person whom the authority delegates the power to do so, or a person whom the authority appoints to mediate if the Council has lodged the application.
In both cases, the person who conducts the mediation must report the outcome to the consent authority.
Mediation is one of many tools utilised by the Environment Court if one or more of the parties disagree with the Council's decision after a hearing. If an appeal or reference is made to the Environment Court, one of the parties will request mediation, or the Environment Court seeks to see if the parties would work towards resolving the matters by mediation. Parties meet with an independent mediator and work to reach an agreement.
Mediation is more formal than a pre-hearing meeting. More time is taken for the parties to agree on the process before moving onto the substance of the dispute. The parties can choose their own mediator at their own expense, or the Environment Court may appoint one of its commissioners to act as the mediator at no charge to the parties.