There's a lot of specialised, legal terminology associated with Resource Consents. This list gives you definitions for some of the terms you may encounter.

Abatement notice

requires compliance with the RMA within the time specified in the notice. Only Councils can issue these to get someone to stop or to start doing something.

Access strips

are easements that allow access, usually to the banks of streams, rivers or lakes, or to the coast.


is a person, group or organisation who lodges an appeal with the Environment Court.

Assessment of environmental effects

is a report that must be given to the Council with every resource consent application. It outlines the effects that the proposed activity might have on the environment.


is a power available to the Minister for the Environment to direct that an application is considered by the Government.  Councils are also able to request that an application be called-in.

Certificate of compliance

is confirmation that your activity is permitted by the Council and does not need a resource consent.

CMT or Customary Marine Title

(also known as "Protected Customary Rights") recognises the customary rights of Maori in the marine and coastal area. Anyone applying for resource consent in the common marine or coastal area must seek the views of groups that have applied for CMT.


is a professional person who is an accredited RMA decision maker and may be engaged to make a decision on a resource consent on behalf of the Council.

Deemed permitted boundary activities

can be granted instead of a resource consent when work would infringe on the district plan's boundary rules (ie when a structure's position or size is restricted if it comes within a certain distance of the property boundary). All affected parties must provide written approval of the work.

Department of Conservation


administers land under the Conservation and National Parks Acts and has a role under the RMA overseeing the management of the coastal environment and native freshwater fisheries.



are provisions in a district plan which provide notice to the community of an intention by the Council or a Requiring Authority to use land in the future for a particular work or project.

Direct referral to the Environment Court


is a process whereby an applicant can request that the Council allow a resource consent application to be directly referred to the Environment Court.

District Councils


are primarily responsible for managing the environmental effects of activities on land.

District plans


must be prepared by City or District Councils to help them carry out their functions under the RMA.  District Plans set the objectives, policies for how the District will be managed.  They also set the rules and resource consent requirements.

Enforcement order


is another way of getting someone to comply with the RMA. It differs from an abatement notice in that anybody (not just the Council) can apply for an enforcement order against somebody else. These are issued by the Environment Court rather than the Council.




1.      ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities, and

2.      natural and physical resources, and

3.      amenity values, and

4.      the social, economic, aesthetic, and cultural conditions which affect them.

Environment Court


is a specialist Court where people can go to appeal decisions made by Councils on either a policy statement or plan, or on a resource consent application, or apply for an enforcement order.

Esplanade reserves


are vested in the Council for conservation and/or public access and recreation purposes along streams, rivers, lakes and the coast.

Esplanade strips


are easements which allow for conservation and/or public access and recreation purposes along streams, rivers, lakes and the coast.  The ownership of the land is not transferred to the Council.

Excessive noise directions


are issued by a council to get people to reduce an excessive noise to a reasonable level.

Existing use certificate


is useful when an existing activity doesn't meet a current district or regional plan rule, but was lawfully established before the rule came into force.

Fast track resource consents

must be processed within ten working days. Only district land use consents with controlled activity status, where an email address has been provided by the applicant, can be considered for fast track processing.

Heritage orders


are provisions in a district plan to protect the heritage characteristics of a particular place.

Infringement notice


is an instant fine that is issued for relatively minor environmental offences.

Land information memorandum


(or LIM) is a document issued by a Council that tells you what information the Council has about that piece of land and the structures upon it.

Limited notification


means that only those persons who are adversely affected by an application are notified of the application by the Council, and only those persons can make a submission on the application.

National environmental standards


are tools used to set nationwide standards for the state of a natural resource. For example 14 standards for the prevention of toxic emissions and the protection of air quality were introduced in October 2004.

National policy statements


provide national policy guidance for matters that are considered to be of environmental importance, for example development on the coast is guided by the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

Natural and physical resources


include land, water, air, soil, minerals, energy, all forms of plants and animals (whether native to New Zealand or introduced), and all structures



allows a consent to be granted by Council officers without any public notification or opportunity for others to make submissions.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment


is an independent adviser to the Government on environmental issues. The Commissioner investigates emerging environmental issues and concerns from the public.



is a person, group or organisation in an appeal or other legal proceedings.

Project Information Memorandum


(or PIM) is issued by the Council and contains information relating to the location of the building and whether it will need a resource consent or not.


Publicly notified resource consent


means that any person can make a submission on the consent application.

Regional Councils


primarily manage resources like the air, water, soils and the coastal marine area.  In Tasman (and Nelson) there is no Regional Council because those functions are carried out by the District Council as a unitary authority.

Regional policy statements

must be prepared by all Regional Councils and help set the direction for the management of all resources across the region

Resource consent


is permission from the Council for an activity that might affect the environment, and that isn't allowed 'as of right' in the district or regional plan.

Resource Management Act 1991


(or RMA or 'the Act') is New Zealand's main piece of environmental legislation and provides a framework for managing the effects of activities on the environment.



is the person or group against whose decision or actions a case has been lodged with the Environment Court.



outlines your written comments, opinions, concerns, support, opposition or neutral stance about a proposed development, a notice of requirement for a designation, or a proposed policy statement or plan.

Sustainable management


means managing the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economical and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while:

1.      sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations, and

2.      safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems, and

3.      avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.

Unitary authorities


carry out the roles of both regional and district councils.  Tasman District Council is a unitary authority.

Vertical Datum


is the standard used to measure heights for plans. Read more about Vertical Datum.(external link)

Working day


means any day except for a weekend day, public holiday, and those days between 20 December and 10 January each year.

Written approval


can be given by parties who may be affected by a resource consent application to allow the application to be processed without notification.  The affected party loses the right to oppose the application (unless they withdraw their approval).


Last modified: