Fees and Charges FAQs

Please also have a read of our Schedule of Fees and Charges for full information.

 

Here’s an example of a consent invoice with some important information highlighted.

Marked up invoice

When you apply for a resource consent, you also need to submit an initial deposit or pay a fixed fee with your application. These vary depending on the type of consent you apply for and how your application will be processed. Additional charges may apply depending on the nature and complexity of your application.  

Consent application charges aim to cover the costs associated with processing your application including, staff time, travel costs, hearing costs, public notification (if required). 

All of the charges for consents are made under either section 36 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), under section 150 of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA), or section 243 of the Building Act 2004 (BA). These charges are also consistent with our Revenue and Financing Policy.  

The RMA has an emphasis on the user pays principle; those who benefit from the use of natural and physical resources are expected to pay the full costs of that use. The charges for resource consents reflect that philosophy.  

We are a customer service focused organisation. We want to provide you with excellent service and value for money. You have a right to service that reflects the payment of your charges.  

To this end, the charges in our Fees and Charges are:  

  • Reasonable, fair, and consistent  
  • Based on the services we deliver  

The principles that have guided ORC in setting its resource management charges in the schedule of Fees and Charges (in the Annual Plan) are set out below.  

Charges must be lawful  

We can only levy charges that are allowed by the RMA and the LGA.  

Section 36 of the RMA covers consent application charges, consent administration and monitoring charges, and charges for carrying out state of the environment monitoring. This section also covers charging for information in respect of plans, resource consents and the supply of documents.   

Section 150 of the LGA enables ORC to prescribe the fees payable in respect of any inspection made by ORC under the LGA or any other legislation.  

Charges must be reasonable  

The sole purpose of a charge is to recover the reasonable costs incurred by ORC in respect of the activity to which the charge relates – see RMA (section 36AAA(2)), LGA (section 150), and BA (section 243).  

Charges must be fair  

Charges must be fair and relate to consent holders' activities. ORC can only charge consent holders to the extent that their actions have contributed to the need for ORC's work in relation to the consent.   

Where possible, ORC will look for opportunities to streamline and improve processes to ensure that consent processing functions continue to be cost effective and efficient.  

Charges must be uniformly applied  

Charges should be applied uniformly and consistently to users whose activities require them to hold a consent and where ORC incurs ongoing costs.   

Charges must be simple to understand  

Charges should be clear and easy to understand. The administration and collection of charges should also be simple and cost effective.  

Charges must be transparent  

Charges should be calculated clearly, logically and justifiably. The costs to be recovered for work ORC has done should be identifiable.   

Applications for resource consents  

Resource consents are processed as either non-notified, limited notified, or publicly notified. The majority of consent applications are processed as non-notified. Our staff are happy to provide advice about your application for a resource consent. Our aim is to ensure your application is processed quickly and simply, while meeting the requirements set out in the RMA.   

Our policy is that we charge the actual and reasonable costs for processing a resource consent application or other application type. This is based on the charge out rates found here.  

Consent Deposits 

We require the deposit or fixed fee to be paid in full before we can begin to process your application. Where processing costs exceed the initial deposit an additional charge for actual and reasonable costs is made.  

Under section 36AAB(2) of the RMA, we will not begin to process any application until the initial fixed application charge is paid.   

Withdrawn or returned applications 

Application charges apply even if your consent application is declined or you withdraw your application. These charges are based on the actual and reasonable costs associated with the processing of your consent up to that point.  

Fixed fee applications

If you pay a fixed fee for an application and the application is withdrawn or consent is declined, the fee will not be returned to you.

For publicly notified resource consent applications and applications that are going to a hearing, we can provide you with a cost estimate which we will update where necessary. You will also be asked to pay a deposit for the hearing costs.  

How much an application costs to process is a combination of complexity (technical and planning), quality of the application and if it is notified or not. We will only charge you for our time and our experts time, we do not on charge any time associated with your interactions with any stakeholders or affected parties. 

 

 

You must the deposit up front, before we can begin processing your application, if costs exceed this initial deposit then we will invoice you. We do not currently invoice you on an ongoing basis while processing your consent, rather we invoice at the end of the process.  

We will invoice you after the consent has been issued. We invoice monthly, so you may not get your invoice for the work for some time after your consent has been issued. We are working on this process so that you are invoiced sooner. 

To process your resource consent application or other application type we charge for our actual and reasonable costs based on actual staff time spent. The charge-out rate is dependent on the services provided as outlined in the Scale of Charges found here   

We may use external consultants to help process or audit your consent application. Consultant services are charged on the basis of actual and reasonable cost of the services provided. For some of our invoices this will show up as ‘disbursements’ or as ‘consultants’ 

There are two types of consultant charges you may receive: 

Science or technical reviews 

You may incur consultant charges if we need to have your application audited by a technical expertThis is to ensure that the effects of your activity are as stated and to ensure we make the right notification decision. We may come back to you and the consultant working on your application with questions as a result of this audit. 

The work is passed onto external technical experts because it may be a complex technical application that requires review, or because there is no capacity for it to be assessed internally. 

Depending on the application it may be audited even if you have a report prepared by a qualified or experienced technical expert. 

External consent processing  

Some applications are processed by consultant consent officers. This is due to capacity limitations. We have skilled consultants working for us and their costs are generally in line with those of an internal staff member. If your application is urgent then you can ask for it to be assigned to an external officer for faster processing. We can work with you on whether this is the best option. 

If you are happy for your application not to be processed straight away it will go in the cue for processing by an internal staff member.  

If your application is processed internally, instead of being assigned externally we may ask for a time extension while it's waiting to be assigned to a processing officer. 

You can let us know which option you would prefer when you apply for your consent. 

If you consider any additional charge exceeding the initial deposit is unreasonable, you may object to ORC in accordance with s357 of the RMA. You need to make your objection in writing to ORC within 15 working days of receiving your account. ORC will hear your objection and make a decision on whether to uphold it.   

If you are still not satisfied, then you can appeal ORC’s decision to the Environment Court.  

Yes, you will need to pay your application deposit (or fixed fee) and then any additional costs invoiced to you. If you are wanting to seek funding support for your project, or to cover the application fees then you need to seek funding assistance before the application is lodged with Council. From 1 July 2021, we introduced a fund to help community or catchment groups with the costs of resource consent processing fees, we have a total fund of $50,000 annually for this purpose. Find out more about this here.

ORC has funding available through our ECO Fund which supports community-driven projects that protect, enhance and promote Otago's environment. The ECO Fund will not support application fees but it does support the on-ground and administrative costs of projects that could free up funds for the application fees. You can find out more here.

As outlined in our Schedule of Fees and Charges you will be charged for the cost to hold a consent hearing. You will be required to be a deposit for the costs specifically associated with the hearing. The deposit will be for 90% of the anticipated costs for the hearing.  The deposit is based on the scale of your application, information contained in the application and costs for other similar sized hearings. You will need to pay this deposit at least 10 working days in advance of the hearing and if you do not pay the deposit then the hearing can be cancelled.  This deposit includes, but is not limited to: 

  • ORC staff time during the hearing, preparing and organising for the hearing, venue hire, technology requirements and writing any evidence. This also includes any time of the ORC’s experts or lawyers if they are needed to be part of the reporting team.  You will be advised of the experts that Council intends to use.
  • The costs of the decision-makers if they are Councillors, or if you have requested an independent decision-maker.  
  • Time and cost for attending a site visit, by an ORC staff member and the decision makers.  

The costs on the invoice for the hearing deposit are additional to any other processing costs for your application. After the hearing, if we have not invoiced you for the other processing you will still receive an invoice for overall processing costs. If you would like to be invoiced for all other costs prior to the hearing, then please advise the processing officer.  All invoicing is handled by Council’s Finance Team.

Disbursements typically include printing and phone calls made by consultants. If your application went to a hearing then this description will also normally cover venue hire, sound hire and flights and accommodation needed for any Hearing Commissioner. 

On some of our invoices costs will show up as ‘Consultant Processing’ and the time will then be divided up based on the task they completed. This consultant time will relate to either your application being processed by a consultant planner, or an audit from a technical consultant. You will have been advised of the use of the consultant before they are engaged. Consultant costs are charged at their actual rates.

When you pay a deposit, it shows up on the top of the invoice, but less GST. The GST is then added on at the bottom of the invoice. This is to assist with making the invoice clearer to follow.  

You get an invoice because the processing of your application cost is more than the deposit. Deposits are not intended to cover the total costs of processing the application. Time processing your application is charged against the deposit at an hourly rate. You will be kept up to date about the processing costs of your application as it is processed and provided an indicative range of costs at the start of the process.  

 

When processing your application staff undertake several tasks as required by the RMA. We have set up our time recording system so that these tasks can then be pulled through onto your invoice. This is so you can see the general work areas and who has undertaken the work. 

If you have questions about what is on your invoice, then you can contact us or email the address that sent you the invoice. This includes asking for consultant invoices or more information about the charges on your invoice. Please ensure you send these questions within 15 working days from when you receive your invoice.  

Under the RMA you can formally object to any costs over the deposit.  It is recommended that you get in touch with us first with any questions and staff can provide you with more information on the objection process.  

 

You need to formally object in writing and within 15 working days (week days) from the date you receive your invoice. You need to send this objection to the email address that issued you the invoice (accountsreceivable@orc.govt.nz). 

 

This objection needs to be in writing, state why you think the additional costs above the deposit are not fair and reasonable and the outcome you would like. Staff will then be in touch to acknowledge the objection and start the process to look at your costs.

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