What is a designation?

A designation is a provision in a district plan for a public work or project. Only a requiring authority can give notice of a requirement for a designation.

What is a requiring authority?

The following persons and organisations are requiring authorities: 434

  • Any Minister of the Crown
  • A local authority
  • A network utility operator 435  which has been approved as a requiring authority

A network utility operator can apply to the Minister for the Environment for approval as a requiring authority. Before approving the application, the Minister must be satisfied that approval of the application is appropriate for the proposed works and that the applicant is likely to satisfactorily carry out all its responsibilities as a requiring authority under the RMA. 436  An application is formally approved by notice in the Gazette.

How does the designation process work?

A requiring authority may give notice to a territorial authority of its requirement for a designation to be included in its district plan at any time. A notice must include: 437

  • A description of the site
  • The nature of proposed work
  • The nature of any proposed conditions
  • The effects on the environment, ways in which adverse effects may be mitigated
  • Alternative sites, routes and methods that have been considered
  • The reasons why the work is reasonably necessary
  • Identification of any other resource consents required
  • Whether or not those consents have been applied for
  • A statement of consultation (if any) undertaken

The notice of a requirement is processed largely in the same manner as a resource consent, however the decision whether to publicly notify the notice of requirement is made in the same way as for matters that are called in. 438 Further, a territorial authority does not make a final decision on the requirement. It makes a recommendation to the requiring authority as to whether the requirement should be confirmed, modified or withdrawn. 439  The requiring authority then decides whether to accept or reject the recommendation. 440  The decision of the requiring authority can be appealed to the Environment Court by the territorial authority or any submitter. The notice of appeal must conform with Form 22. 441

Where the requiring authority wishes a requirement (that has been notified) to be decided by the Environment Court 442  the requiring authority must lodge a request with the relevant territorial authority. 443  The territorial authority must give its decision whether to allow the requirement to be heard directly by the Environment Court within 15 working days after the date of the decision on notification. It must grant the request if the value of the investment meets or exceeds threshold amount set in regulations (if regulations have been developed, unless exceptional circumstances exist. 444

The territorial authority must then provide the Environment Court with: 445

  • the requirement
  • the authority's report on the requirement
  • all submissions received on the requirement
  • any other information or reports supplied to it

Parties may join as section 274 parties to the notice of motion for the requirement. 446

After hearing evidence from all of the parties, the Environment Court may cancel the requirement, confirm the requirement or modify the requirement, or impose conditions as the Court thinks fit. 447

If the requirement is not appealed or is confirmed by the Environment Court, the territorial authority must include the designation in its district plan and any proposed district plan as soon as practicable and without using the Schedule 1 public submission process.

Designations may also be included in proposed district plans and submissions may be made on these as part of the plan preparation process. Where the streamlined planning process or the other collaborative planning process is used, designations follow a slightly different path to other planning provisions. The decision of the requiring authority in relation to a designation in a proposed plan can be appealed by filing a notice in accordance with Form 8.

What is the effect of a designation?

A designation has effect as follows: 448

  • The requiring authority responsible for the designation may do anything that is in accordance with the designation
  • No person may do anything which would prevent the work to which the designation relates without the written consent of the requiring authority
  • A requiring authority can apply to the Minister of Lands to have the affected land compulsorily acquired under the Public Works Act 1981 449
  • Affected landowners can also apply to the Environment Court for an order that the requiring authority purchase the land under the Public Works Act 450

As soon as a requiring authority gives notice of a requirement for a designation, this will also have the interim effect of restricting a person from doing anything which would prevent or hinder the work until the requirement is withdrawn, cancelled or included in the district plan. 451

Note that designations relate to land use activities and can only be included in district plans. Therefore they do not remove the need for the requiring authority to obtain any necessary regional consents.

 A designation lapses 5 years after the date it was included in the district plan unless: 452

  • It is given effect to before the end of that period
  • Substantial progress or effort has been  and continues to be made towards giving effect to the designation and the territorial authority fixes a longer period
  • The designation specifies a different lapse time period
  1. Section 166 Resource Management Act 1991

  2. A network utility operator is an organisation involved in activities such as the operation of a telecommunications network or airport, electricity and water distribution, the transmission of gas or petrol by pipeline, sewerage disposal, and the construction of roads and railway lines.

  3. Section 167 Resource Management Act 1991

  4. Section 168 and Form 18 Resource Management Act 1991

  5. Section 168A Resource Management Act 1991

  6. Section 171 Resource Management Act 1991

  7. Section 172 Resource Management Act 1991

  8. Section 174 Resource Management Act 1991

  9. Section 198A Resource Management Act 1991

  10. Section 198B Resource Management Act 1991

  11. Section 198C Resource Management Act 1991

  12. Section 198E Resource Management Act 1991

  13. Section 198E(4) Resource Management Act 1991

  14. Section 198E(6) Resource Management Act 1991

  15. Section 176 Resource Management Act 1991

  16. Section 186 Resource Management Act 1991

  17. Section 185 Resource Management Act 1991

  18. Section 178 Resource Management Act 1991

  19. Section 184 Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 2:13PM on January 8, 2018