The hearing process allows us to understand the different points and view on a consent application. It’s an important part of the process that lets a decision maker decide whether the consent should be granted.

There are two types of hearings - these are pre-hearings and hearings. Some consents a pre-hearing meeting is less formal and if all the issues raised are sorted out, then a formal hearing won’t be required. A hearing is more formal and is where a commissioner(s) or a hearings panel will hear evidence from all parties and issue a written decision on the consent.

Pre-hearing meetings

A pre-hearing meeting may be held if submissions are received on an application. this will happen if the application has been limited or publicly notified, and a party puts in a written submission.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues arising from the resource consent application and to try and sort things out by meeting face to face to talk through issues.

The meeting provides an opportunity for parties to work out points of disagreement or misunderstanding in a semi-formal setting.

If an agreement on a way forward is reached, then a formal hearing may not be required. Often this agreement is on next steps, information to be provided or draft conditions. Even if a formal hearing is still required after the pre-hearing, these meetings are useful as they will have helped people understand issues with the application.

A pre-hearing meeting will be held as soon as possible after the submission period for the application has closed. It will be held as close as possible to the site for which the application is made.

The applicant and all submitters will be invited to attend. Otago Regional Council staff or an independent party will chair the meeting. Applicants or submitters may choose to have legal or other representation at the meeting. This representation is optional.

The report from the meeting will be circulated to all parties and will be taken into account by the decision-makers. 

For the meeting to be effective: 

  • all parties must be willing to find a solution
  • there must be potential for resolution


A hearing is a formal forum for considering resource consent applications. It gives the applicant and all submitters the opportunity to formally present their position to a hearings panel or hearings commissioner(s). 

A hearing is only required if: 

  • the consent authority (the Otago Regional Council) considers it necessary, or 
  • the applicant or a submitter requests a hearing

A hearing must be held within 25 working days of the submission period closing. This time limit may be extended by us if we require it or after a request from the applicant. 

The hearings panel will comprise two or more Regional Councillors. A panel has delegated authority to hear and determine the outcome of consent applications. Independent commissioner(s) may be appointed to the panel. 

If there is a conflict of interest for the Regional Council, the application will be heard and determined by independent commissioner(s). 

Before the hearing

Our Consents Planner's report on the application will be circulated to all parties. This report will be on the application and have a recommendation in it. The report carries the same level of importance as any information supplied by submitters or the applicant.  The applicant and submitters will be invited to circulate material that will be presented at the hearing.  

At the hearing

The applicant and every submitter who wanted to speak at the hearing will present their submission and any evidence at the hearing, either personally or through a representative. At the hearing:

  • Submitters may not raise any issues that were not covered in their written submission. Points can be explained, but no new issues may be raised
  • You do not have to give an oath to present evidence
  • There is no cross examination, or asking others questions. Only panel members may question any party or witness
  • Only the panel can request or receive advice
  • Evidence may be written or spoken in Māori, an interpreter will be provided if advance notice of evidence in Māori is given

The hearing will generally follow this format:

  • Introduction by the chair of the hearing panel  
  • Council planner’s reports on the application (this step is sometimes switched with the below in the order)) 
  • Applicant presents the application(s) 
  • Submitter(s) speak on their submission(s) 
  • Applicant responds 
  • Hearing is closed or adjourned 
  • Decision is circulated 

Hearing costs

Before the hearing the applicant will be issued with an invoice requesting the payment of a deposit for the costs associated with the hearing. This will be a deposit for 90% of the likely costs of the hearing. The applicant will need to pay this invoice 10 working days before the hearing. If this deposit is not paid, then Council can cancel the hearing.

Page last updated 22 June 2024.