Resource Management & Environmental Law
A national reputation for outstanding results
Wynn Williams’ specialist team in Resource Management and Environmental Law has a nationwide reputation for achieving outstanding results for our clients.

The team is renowned for managing complex projects, from inception through to appeals. We can assist where legislation or planning documents impact on what you can or cannot do with your land, business, home or resources.  We take a "whole of client" approach to providing advice, with a particular emphasis on finding practical solutions to achieve identified outcomes. 

This team of skilled advocates are experienced in all facets of Environmental Law litigation. From acting for applicants and submitters at council hearings, running complex litigation in the Environment Court, or in the appellate courts, we've successfully done it all.

The team regularly advises on new resource management related legislation, including impacts on property owners and local authorities, implementing new or amended National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards, and engaging with central government on legislative change.

We are recommended as a 'Leading Firm' for Projects and Resource Management (including Environmental Law) by the 2017 Asia Pacific Legal 500.

 

Specialists

Recent Projects

  • We have been the lead legal adviser to Environment Canterbury in respect of the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. From notification in August 2012 to the release of decisions, we provided a range of strategic and legal advice in relation to the myriad of issues raised by submitters concerning the process for preparing the plan and the plan's content. We also provided strategic advice about the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. There were nine appeals lodged in the High Court, involving numerous interested parties. We continue to advise the Council on these appeals, including jurisdictional, merits and strategic advice.
  • Acted for Environment Canterbury on its 2013 Canterbury Regional Policy Statement. We provided advice in relation to the Council's hearing of submissions and acted for the Council in respect of the four High Court appeals lodged on the Council's decision, which we successfully resolved.
  • Acted for Environment Canterbury throughout the hearing process of the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan. Which was the first catchment plan in Canterbury to implement the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011.
  • Acting for Environment Canterbury in its review of its Air Plan, advising on the use of ultra-low emission wood burners and the ability to make changes to the Air Plan using the powers under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
  • We are the lead legal provider for both Environment Canterbury and the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Partners, including acting for the UDS Partners in judicial review proceedings against part of the Minister for Earthquake Recovery's decision to approve the Land Use Recovery Plan under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.
  • Advised a major insurance company on the rebuild and repair of units on multi-unit sites (cross leases and unit titles). We have been managing applications for resource consent, subdivision consent and building consent on a number of difficult rebuilds and repairs.
  • We completed a comprehensive review of a local authority's resource consent division and has also reviewed processing protocols, including assessing existing protocols, redrafting protocols, delivery of updated protocols and providing training in relation to implementation.
  • Our team acts for a property developer developing a large format retail site in suburban Christchurch. We successfully acted to rezone the retail centre land to allow for more enabling zoning, as well as successfully obtaining resource consents to provide for alternative access into the retail centre.
  • Successfully acted for a property developer in Selwyn to ensure that changes made to the Selwyn District Plan did not adversely affect the operation of its shopping centre, nor cause unintended consequences for the proposed development of its other land.
  • Acted for H W Richardson Group Limited in a successful private plan change to extend the zoning of existing industrial land in Invercargill to enable business expansion.
  • Advised a number of clients in relation to the implications of the Christchurch City District Plan review.
  • We have a long standing history of advising contracting depots and land based quarry owners and have successfully obtained resource consents for those activities in a number of districts in New Zealand.
  • We represented Environment Canterbury in an appeal to the Environment Court in relation to the Council's decision to decline an application for resource consent to take and use water for irrigation.
  • Acted for Environment Canterbury on Trustpower Limited's application to amend the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988, including preparing evidence and delivering legal submissions at the hearing.
  • Acted for Environment Canterbury in relation to resource consent applications to establish a land-based quarry in Rolleston, which was processed by way of direct referral to the Environment Court.

Articles

31/01/2017

Have your say on the Draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is calling for submissions on the recently released Draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy 2017-2022.

Keep reading...


2/12/2016

Scope widened on National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities

The Government has recently responded to an evolving telecommunications landscape as it continues to roll out additional national planning direction in the form of national policy statements (NPSs) and national environmental standards (NESs). On 1 January 2017, the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities 2016 (NESTF 2016) will replace the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities 2008 (NESTF 2008).

Keep reading...


29/11/2016

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill and the NPS on Urban Development Capacity

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith recently announced that the Māori Party will support the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill enabling the Bill to progress through the Parliamentary process. These reforms were first introduced in November last year and Wynn Williams published an article regarding the proposed reforms.

Keep reading...


13/06/2016

Have Your Say on the Marlborough Environment Plan

The Marlborough District Council notified the proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP) on 9 June 2016. Now is your opportunity to have your say by lodging a submission.

Keep reading...


8/06/2016

National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity not just for Auckland

As foreshadowed in the 2016 Budget announcement, the Government has released the proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS UDC) for consultation. What might surprise many is that it is not just set to address the problem in the Auckland region, but Tauranga, Hamilton, Queenstown and Christchurch are also grouped in the "High Growth Urban Area" category.

Keep reading...


29/04/2016

The New Framework to Regenerate Christchurch

Christchurch has a new legal framework to support regeneration over the next five years. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act") expired on 19 April 2016 and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is no more. The CER Act has been replaced by the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (the "Act").

Keep reading...


1/04/2016

Are More Changes Afoot for the Management of Freshwater Quality?

A recent hikoi and associated petition presented to Parliament this week highlights the increasing focus being given to the management of the quality of freshwater in New Zealand.

Keep reading...


15/02/2016

A New Marine Protected Areas Act: Does More Flexibility Result In Better Protection?

In January 2016, the Ministers for Primary Industries, Conservation, and the Environment announced plans to improve the management of New Zealand's oceans by implementing a revised system of marine protected areas designed to improve and build upon management systems which already exist.

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27/11/2015

Environmental reforms - a paradigm shift?

On 26 November 2015, the Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Nick Smith, announced the long-awaited details of the suite of reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") and other environmental legislation proposed in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. The main objectives of the reforms are to achieve better alignment and integration across the resource management system, proportional and adaptable processes, and robust and durable decision making.

Keep reading...


8/07/2015

Please sir, may I have a certificate of compliance?

What is a certificate of compliance? • A consent authority issues a certificate of compliance under section 139 of the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") to confirm that an activity can be done lawfully in a particular location without a resource consent (i.e as a permitted activity). A certificate of compliance is treated as a resource consent and provides certainty to a resource user that their activity does not require a resource consent.

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5/05/2015

To approve or not to approve; that is the question.

What is a written approval? The resource consent process under the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") provides an opportunity for certain persons affected by an activity seeking consent, to become involved in the decision-making process. A consent authority is required to notify adversely affected persons of the application for consent. Those affected persons are then entitled to lodge a submission in support or opposition to the application. Anyone who has lodged a submission can bring evidence and be involved in the hearing of a resource consent application.

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3/03/2015

6 months or bust

The new six-month consent processing time frames will be introduced on 3 March 2015 when Part 3 of the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 (the "Amendment Act") comes into force. This will have a significant impact on the resource consent process, which has been overhauled in an attempt to make the entire procedure more efficient and provide a degree of certainty to applicants. Although these amendments were originally proposed to hasten "medium-sized projects" the amendments now apply across the board to all resource consent applications.

Keep reading...


5/09/2014

Simplifying and Streamlining in the information age - are we focusing on the right things?

The following article appeared in the August 2014 edition of the Resource Management Journal (August 2014 RMJ) The Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA) relies on public participation to inform council plan- making, principally in the form of consultation under clause 3 of Schedule 1, the submission and further submission processes, and through appeals to the Environment Court. District and regional plans are documents that people “order their lives by” and so it is of paramount importance that the public are given the opportunity to be involved in the processes to establish those plans.

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11/08/2014

Christchurch City Council Plan Review - Another 'Streamlined' Process

The review of the Christchurch City Plan and Banks Peninsula District Plan will be streamlined by an Order in Council made under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act"). The Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014 (the "Order"), which came into force on 8 July 2014, requires the Christchurch City Council ("the Council") to review the existing district plans and develop a replacement district plan. The Order modifies the provisions and application of the Resource Management Act 1991, and remains in force until 19 April 2016.

Keep reading...


19/03/2014

Environmental reporting bill - All talk, no action?

The Environmental Reporting Bill will, if enacted, introduce a national-level environmental reporting system focusing on five key domains: air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, land, and marine.

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11/11/2013

RM Reform Update - November 2013

Reform in the resource management field continues with the announcement on 7 November 2013 of proposed changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011 ("NPS"). This RMA reform update relates to the proposed amendments to the NPS; along with an update on the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 (and changes to section 32 which come into force in December); and the further RMA reform signalled by the Government.

Keep reading...


11/11/2013

AEE's and the need to get it right - watch this space

The litigation regarding noise associated with New Zealand Windfarms Limited's Te Rere Hau wind farm continues, with leave granted by the High Court for Palmerston North City Council to appeal to the Court of Appeal (Palmerston North City Council v New Zealand Windfarms Limited [2013] NZHC 2654, 11 October 2013 Williams J.).

Keep reading...


27/09/2013

West Coast Ent Inc v Buller Coal Limited

The Supreme Court has recently released its decision West Coast ENT Inc v Buller Coal Limited [2013] NZSC 87, upholding the earlier findings of the Environment Court and the High Court that the effects of coal combustion on climate change are irrelevant to the resource consent process.

Keep reading...


26/08/2013

Existing Use Rights and The Christchurch Rebuild

Existing use rights under the Resource Management Act (RMA) have an important role to play in the Rebuild of Christchurch.

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9/08/2013

Queenstown – A Resource Management Hotspot: Shotover Park Case Note

Queenstown has become a hotspot, not only for adventure tourism, but also resource management litigation. In a recent article, we discussed caselaw involving two resource consent applications to build a Pak'nSave and a Mitre 10 Mega at Frankton Flats, Queenstown (the "Consent Cases"). A further development has emerged in a related High Court appeal.

Keep reading...


11/07/2013

The Queenstown Central Cases - The Meaning of "Minor" and The Assessment of Non-Complying Activities

The recent decisions of the High Court in Queenstown Central Ltd v Queenstown Lakes District Council have highlighted developments in fundamental principles related to resource consent applications for non-complying activities, the definition of "the environment", and the meaning of the word "minor".

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17/06/2013

Select Committee Reports back on Resource Management Reform Bill

On 11 June 2013, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee released its report on the Resource Management Reform Bill with a majority recommendation that it be passed with amendment.

Keep reading...


2/05/2013

The Changing Face of Water Management in Canterbury

Over the last ten years, the focus in Canterbury has been on getting water.  Now that water has been allocated, the focus is now moving to securing the reliability of that water and controlling the discharges associated with its use. This new focus is wider than just dairying, and includes the use of land for any primary production.

Keep reading...


14/03/2013

Do Council's owe a Duty of Care when Issuing S 224 Certificates?

The Courts have recently looked at the issue of whether a Council owes a duty to take reasonable care in issuing a section 224 certificate and ensuring registration of a consent notice under the Resource Management Act 1991.  The outcome of these proceedings may have important consequences for local authorities.

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12/03/2013

Government casts rod on submissions for freshwater reform

In a jointly released initiative, the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have called for submissions on New Zealand's freshwater management regime.

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3/03/2013

Reliance on bare or bald assertions: a one-way ticket to a certificate of non-compliance

Recent litigation has seen the High Court provide a timely reminder to consent authorities about the scope of their obligations when processing applications for Certificates of Compliance. As the decisions show, these obligations, if left unfulfilled, can result in costly, time consuming judicial review proceedings to the eventual detriment of applicants, consent authorities and affected third parties.

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3/03/2013

RM Update: More direction from central government in second phase of reforms to the RMA

Minister for the Environment, Hon. Amy Adams released a discussion document on the next phase of reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991 (the "RMA") on 28 February 2013.  Further reforms to the RMA had been anticipated following amendments made in 2009 to simplify and streamline parts of the Act. 

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17/02/2013

CERA Acquisitions for Anchor Projects

The Christchurch Central City Recovery Plan could result in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority compulsorily acquiring large tracts of the central city for the Anchor Projects.

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21/01/2013

Summary of Decisions Requested on Proposed Plans - the Importance of Getting it Right

Many local authorities around the country are in the process of reviewing regional and district plans, prior to notifying proposed new versions of those documents.  Interested persons will be able to lodge submissions and further submissions on the proposed plans.

Keep reading...


28/11/2012

When the RMA bites

One of our resource management partners Amanda Douglas writes an article for the Q& M New Zealand Quarrying & Mining about the Resource Management Act.

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20/11/2012

Compulsory Acquisition in the Central City

Many landowners in the central city have now received letters from CERA, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, informing them that their land in the central city has been designated for Anchor Projects under the Central City Recovery Plan.  This article describes the processes of designation, acquisition and compensation under the CER Act.

Keep reading...


12/11/2012

Councils' Duty of Care to Purchasers of Subdivided Land

The High Court at Greymouth has recently found that a council does have a case to answer where it incorrectly certifies conditions of subdivision have been met and a subsequent purchaser of the land relies on those certifications.

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29/10/2012

Road Metals Limited v Selwyn District Council and Environment Canterbury

Road Metals Company Limited (Road Metals) sought consent to establish and operate a quarry, involving surface extraction of river metals from a property in Burnham adjacent to Rolleston. Both district and regional consents were needed.

Keep reading...


28/10/2012

The Christchurch CBD Blueprint: Resource Management Issues

The blueprint for the Central City has been released, so what does it mean – particularly if you own property in the Central City?  How does it affect existing activities in the new zones?

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22/10/2012

Prosecution Risks under the Resource Management Act 1991

Did you hear the one about the developer, the contractor, the sub-contractor and the engineer?  The contractor was responsible for the earthworks, the sub contractor carried out the works, the developer assured the contractor that no resource consents were required and the engineer oversaw the project.  Who do you think was prosecuted when unconsolidated sediment made its way into streams and, ultimately, the sea, following heavy rain?

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29/06/2012

Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644

A recent decision of the High Court in Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644 may have significant implications for Councils and their public notification obligations under the First Schedule of the RMA.

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28/06/2012

Successful Judicial Review proceedings for Akaroa Marine Protection Society

The Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society Inc (the "Society") made an application in 1995 seeking a marine reserve within the Akaroa Harbour. The Minister of Conservation (the "Minister") declined the application on the basis that the reserve would unduly interfere with or adversely affect existing recreational use of the area, particularly for recreational fishing.

Keep reading...


9/05/2012

Fracking in Canterbury - What is it and how is it controlled?

Mining is a divisive issue in New Zealand. Deniston Plateau, offshore exploration, Save Happy Valley and Schedule 4 land are terms that invoke diverging opinions and heated discussions.

Keep reading...


20/04/2011

Biosecurity Law Reform Bill

The Biosecurity Law Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on 10 December 2010. It has been referred
to the Primary Production select committee, with submissions due by Thursday 10 February 2011.

Keep reading...


4/01/2011

Aquaculture Reform

The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) was introduced in Parliament on 16 November 2010.  It has been referred to the Primary Production select committee, with submissions due by Friday 11 February 2011.

Keep reading...


30/10/2010

Priority and Notifiability of Applications for Consent - Central Plains Water

The Central Plains Water saga - all the way up to the Supreme Court, and this is just the preliminary
skirmishing. The hearing of CPW's application to take water for irrigation, by the Council's commissioners,
has not yet concluded - so appeals on the actual application are still just a twinkle in the parties' eyes.

Keep reading...


29/10/2010

Existing Use Rights and the Permitted Baseline - Rodney District Council v Eyres Eco-Park Limited

The Courts in this litigation examined the relationship between existing use rights and the permitted
baseline, and the relationship between the common law permitted baseline and the statutory permitted
baseline. They also provided guidance on the date at which existing use rights are assessed, where
activities lessen over time and further restricting rules are introduced.

Keep reading...


28/10/2010

Appellants Giving Evidence as Expert Witnesses - Briggs

Finally, a warning sounded by the Court in the case of Briggs v Christchurch City Council, where the Court
said it was drawing a line in the sand about parties giving expert evidence to the Court in their own cases.

Keep reading...


27/10/2010

Prohibited Activities - The Coromandel Watchdog Case

The Court of Appeal's decision in this case produced a major change in the approach which should be taken
to prohibited activity status. There was a very restricted view taken by the lower courts in this case, and
other cases. The Court of Appeal has said that there are quite a few circumstances in which it is
appropriate to make an activity a prohibited activity in a plan.

Keep reading...


24/10/2010

Running to Stand Still - Legislative Changes & Implications for Territorial Authority Compliance - R

This paper sets out some of the amendments brought into effect by the Resource Management (Simplifying
and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009, which impact on resource consent applications. Whether you are
a council planner applying the amendments to the processing of an application or a consultant planner
preparing an application and steering it through the processing stage, you need to know the ins and outs of
the amendments.

Keep reading...


20/10/2010

Technical Paper: Implications of Resource Management Act Amendments in the Transportation Area

An outline of the amendments to the Resource Management Act which came into effect on 1 October
2009, with particular focus on amendments which impact on the processes and practices of transport
engineers and planners.

Keep reading...


10/05/2010

Simplifying and Streamlining of Resource Consent Applications

The Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 came into effect on 1
October 2009, bringing a number of changes aimed at ‘simplifying and streamlining’ a number of resource
management processes.

Keep reading...


14/05/2006

Amending A Resource Consent Application Post-Notification - How Far Can You Go?

Situations often arise during the resource consent process where an applicant may wish to change its application after the application has been notified.  The changes may result from concerns raised in submissions, a request for further information from a consent authority, or at the suggestion of the consent authority itself.  The applicant’s own advisers may even suggest that the application be amended to incorporate changes to better serve the applicant’s needs.  This raises the question of whether an applicant can amend an application after it has been notified, without the need to re-notify the application.

Keep reading...





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