The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) provides for the Minister for the Environment to intervene in the decision-making process for proposals of national significance. This page explains when and how the Minister can intervene.
The RMA does not define what national significance means, however the Act provides some examples of factors the Minister may consider when making his/her decision. These include if the proposal:
The Minister can intervene in applications for resource consent, notices of requirement, and requests for a regional plan or private plan change.
For proposals that have been lodged with the local authority, the Minister can be formally requested to intervene in a decision-making process by either the applicant for the proposal or the local authority which would normally make the decision. Alternatively, the Minister can choose to intervene of his/her own volition.
Since 1 October 2009, applicants with proposals of national significance have been able to lodge directly with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA was established through the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009.
After receiving and considering a request to intervene, the Minister can choose from six options for action:
The Minister can call in a proposal that has been lodged with a local authority by making a direction that:
In either case, the local authority will no longer have the role of deciding the matter as it normally would.
If the Minister decides to call in a proposal, he/she must give a direction in writing, stating the reasons for referring the matter to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) serves the Minister’s direction on the local authority and applicant. The EPA also gives public notice of the Minister’s direction and receives submissions on the proposal.
Following the close of the submission period, the EPA provides the board of inquiry or Environment Court with all submissions received and all relevant material collected by the local authority.
Before the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009, five proposals of national significance were called in.
Information on proposals called in after 1 October 2009 can be found on the EPA's website.
‘Te Waka’ wind farm proposal – final decision made by Environment Court in February 2009
The Environment Court declined an application by Unison Networks for a 34-turbine wind farm near Te Waka Range in Hawke’s Bay. Unison’s proposal was called in by the Minister for the Environment in January 2008 and then referred to the Environment Court.
‘Te Mihi’ geothermal power station – final decision made by Board in September 2008
A Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, granted consent, subject to terms and conditions, for a new geothermal power station at ‘Te Mihi’ near Taupo.
Transpower's North Island Grid Upgrade Project – final decision made by Board in September 2009
A Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, confirmed requirements for designations (with certain modifications) and granted resource consents, subject to terms and conditions, for an electricity transmission line in the upper North Island.
Turitea wind farm proposal – final decision made by the Board in September 2011 A Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, approved 60 turbines, 33 turbines at the northern end of the site and 27 turbines at the southern end in the Turitea reserve near Palmerston North.
‘Hauāuru mā raki’ - Waikato wind farm proposal– final decision made by the Board in May 2011 A Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, granted resource consents subject to conditions, confirmed requirements for designations subject to modifications and conditions at the Hauāuru mā raki Waikato wind farm.
Southdown Holdings Ltd, Williamson Holdings Ltd and Five Rivers Ltd lodged resource consent applications for the storage/discharge of effluent and land use from under cover dairy operations in the Mackenzie Basin. The Minister for the Environment called in the applications and referred them to an independent board of inquiry, however, the resource consent applications were withdrawn on 18 March 2010.
Last updated: 28 February 2013