Monitoring of resource consents is carried out by the Council’s Resource Monitoring Officers. This is separate from any monitoring or inspections related to a building consent.
Consent holders have a legal obligation to comply with the conditions of their consent. Consent holders who ensure good compliance at all times benefit from a reduction in the frequency of Council visits.
However, no matter how good a consent holder’s own monitoring is, the community needs to be reassured of the credibility and independence of a monitoring programme carried out by or on behalf of Council, particularly in situations of non-compliance, where enforcement action may be required.
The Council monitors every consent, although this doesn’t mean that every property with a resource consent is visited. For example, some consents can be monitored from the office because they only require the return of certain information, or a confirmation of works completed by a Building Inspector. In these cases, phone calls or site visits are only made if the information is not supplied or is not available from Council records.
Monitoring visits may be spaced several years apart or be close together. They may occur regularly throughout the term of the consent, or be concentrated at the beginning or towards the expiry of a consent.
The consent holder may also request a site inspection if they believe that, for example, all development work has been completed and they wish to have a bond or caveat released.
At any site inspection, the Resource Monitoring Officer will observe the area both associated with the consent proposal and the area beyond that. This is to deal with any adverse effect on the environment which may arise from the exercise of the consent. From this, the Council may need to review the conditions of consent or check the accuracy of assessments carried out at the time the resource consent was applied for.
The Council is required to keep copies of all monitoring visit reports. These are summarised and if of a serious nature will be reported to the Regulatory Manager, which may result in a report going to full Council. Being public records, reports of individual site visits are available to the public if requested.
If a consent holder does not comply with the conditions of their consent, Council staff may take enforcement action to require compliance. The exact nature of this action will depend on matters such as the degree of non-compliance, frequency and the effect on the environment, but ultimately the Resource Management Act gives Council both the duty and the tools to enforce compliance. The maximum penalties set out in the Act are very severe.