This note has been updated for 2017 and 2020 amendments but not updated for best practice.
Section 92 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) allows councils to request further information from an applicant and/or commission a report, at any reasonable time before the hearing of an application or before the decision to refuse or grant consent if there is no hearing.
Additional information should only be requested where it is required in order to allow a council to make a decision on a proposal. Generally this information is needed to better understand any potential adverse effects on the environment from the activity.
The applicant has the right to refuse to provide further information or for a report to be commissioned, but in any event, must respond within 15 working days of the request stating what they intend to do. When an applicant does not respond, refuses to provide information, or refuses to agree to the commissioning of a report, then councils must notify the applications in accordance with s95C and then make a decision on the application under section s104.
Section 88C sets out when further information requests and commissioning of reports stop the processing 'clock' for resource consents. The clock can only be stopped once when further information is requested and only if the request is made prior to notification. The clock cannot be stopped between notification and the decision unless the applicant requests processing be suspended. The clock can be stopped any time a report is commissioned provided the applicant agrees.
This guidance note provides good practice advice on requesting further information, commissioning reports and dealing with applicant's responses to such requests.