RMA Decisions on Resource Consent Applications

Under s104 of the RMA councils must take into account the effects of climate change. Decisions on proposed subdivision and land developments need to give due regard to climate change effects where those effects are likely to exacerbate natural hazards.

Those preparing or assessing resource consent applications, particularly for proposals in areas susceptible to natural hazards, should consider whether the expected effects of climate change are a potentially significant issue to address for design and location, and what consequent mitigation measures might be required. Most plans specify information that must be provided with applications for subdivision or development in locations that are likely to be affected by hazards.

  • As a guide, the development of assets and land-uses with a life-span of more than 30-years may have particular vulnerability to being affected by climate change impacts, given the long-term nature of the issue. Decisions relating to these activities will require particular care.
  • Where plans have not incorporated the effects of climate change, it may be appropriate to explicitly assess the effects of climate change through the resource consent process in terms of:
    • Subdivision and developments in floodplain areas, close to rivers, or within or over river channels; close to or within the coastal foreshore (cliffs, beaches or low-lying areas); on or close to steeper hillsides (including at the top and bottom of the hill);
    • Lifeline infrastructure components in the above locations;
    • Subdivision and developments that rely on rain water or ground water for supply;
    • Earthworks in hazard prone areas (coastal dunes, erosion-prone hill country, and floodplains); and
    • High density or essential community uses in identified hazard areas (for example, schools, and hospitals).
  • Determine whether the plan under which consent is being sought has explicitly incorporated the effects of climate change into the setting of hazard management areas and/or associated development standards. For applicants, this may mean making enquiries with the local authority concerned, as, even with recent plans, it may not be obvious whether the plan is based on current data and scientific assumptions.
  • Where the effects of climate change may be a significant issue, it is good practice to demonstrate how a proposal takes the effects of climate change into account as an integral part of the hazard assessment, along with measures incorporated to avoid or mitigate such effects. For example, in locations where flooding and coastal erosion are likely in future, information may be needed on risk levels, building setbacks and siting, floor levels, and contingency response plans. Information to support applications may include existing ground levels and 50 and 100-year flood levels or erosion levels from district/regional councils.
  • Provide information and resources to people within the community about the effects of climate change, and the types of responses that communities can take.
  • In terms of climate change impacts on the coast, the increasing values of coastal property strengthen the need to have this matter addressed quickly and effectively.