The Resource Management Act 1991 puts in place a user pays cost recovery scheme. Section 36 authorises local authorities to fix charges, including those payable by:

Marlborough Sounds Coast (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

  • Applicants for the preparation or change of a policy statement for carrying out the local authority functions;
  • Various parties in respect of a request under section 100A for a hearing by commissioner(s);
  • Applicants for resource consents for carrying out the receiving, processing and granting of consents;
  • People undertaking permitted activities for the monitoring of that activity; 
  • Holders of resource consents  for carrying out the administration, monitoring and supervision of consents;
  • Holders of resources consents for reviewing consent conditions in some circumstances;
  • Requiring authorities and heritage protection authorities in relation to designations and heritage orders;
  • Requesters of information in respect of plans and resource consents for providing information;
  • Requesters of documents for supplying documents; and
  • Any other charge authorised by regulations.

Charges must be “fixed”. This requires the identification of specific amounts or the identification of a scale of charges or other formula to calculate amounts. These must be set using the special consultative process set out in the Local Government Act 2002. 1253  When fixing charges a local authority must also have regard to the following matters: 4539

  • The sole purpose of a charge is to recover the reasonable costs incurred by the local authority; and 
  • A person should only be required to pay a charge to the extent they obtained the benefit of the local authority’s actions distinct from the community as a whole; or
  • A person should only be required to pay a charge where they created need for the local authority’s actions;
  • A person should only be required to pay a charge in relation to monitoring  where it relates to that person activities or the benefit to that person exceeds that to the community as a whole.

The local authority does not need to perform the action to which the charge relates until the charge has been paid in full. 1254

Where a charge which is fixed is inadequate to enable a local authority to recover its actual and reasonable costs the local authority may require an additional charge. 1255  The local authority must have regard to the matters listed above when setting an additional charge. A local authority must provide an estimate of any additional charge likely to be imposed upon request. There are rights to objection to and appeal additional charges. 1256

A local authority may remit the whole or any part of any charge in any particular case in its absolute discretion. 1257

  1. See sections 83 and 150 Local Government Act 2002

  2. Section 36AAB Resource Management Act 1991

  3. Section 36AAB(1) Resource Management Act 1991

  4. See sections 357B to 358 Resource Management Act 1991

  5. Section 36(5) Resource Management Act 1991

  6. Section 36AAA Resource Mangement Act 1991

Last updated at 11:35AM on January 8, 2018