Introduction

Changes to the Conservation Act have improved the process for applying to undertake activities on public conservation land.

Highlights

The amendments to the Conservation Act, which came into effect on 18 October 2017, were made under the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017.

The purpose is to better align the Conservation Act with the Resource Management Act, and streamline application processes to make it easier for applicants. 

The changes that affect applicants are:

  • applications that lack the required information can be returned within 10 working days
  • applications that require public notification will now be notified before a decision is made
  • DOC can decline an application within 30 working days that is obviously inconsistent with the Conservation Act (or any relevant statutory planning document)
  • DOC can reject an application for failing to provide information requested within a specified timeframe.

More information is provided below.

Returning applications lacking information

DOC may now return an application that lacks required information (as per 17S of the Conservation Act) within 10 working days of receiving the application.

The information required has not changed. The addition of 10 working days to return the application is intended to speed up the application process.

Common examples of incomplete information include:

  • no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) provided
  • inadequate location details (eg they are not specific enough)
  • term not specified.

If the application contains all the required information it is deemed as accepted and can continue to be processed.

If the application does not contain all the required information it is deemed incomplete and returned to the applicant with a letter outlining what is missing. If the applicant decides to resubmit their application it becomes a new application and the application process starts again.

Note: The quality of the information provided is assessed later on in the application process, and additional information may be requested from the applicant at this stage.

Applications requiring public notification

Applications that meet the requirements for public notification (under Part 3B of the Conservation Act) must now be publicly notified before a decision is made on whether DOC intends to grant the concession/permit.

Applications that require public notification include:

  • a lease
  • a licence for a term of more than 10 years (this includes renewal of an existing licence).

An application may also be public notified if, based on the effects, we consider it appropriate.

Previously public notification would take place after DOC had assessed the application and made a preliminary decision that they intended to grant it. This change is intended to ensure that submissions are considered as part of the overall assessment of the application.

You will be advised after submitting your application if it is to be publicly notified.

Declining applications inconsistent with the Conservation Act

Applications may now be declined within 30 working days if they are obviously inconsistent with the Conservation Act or any other relevant statutory planning documents (as per part 3B of the Conservation Act).

This change is intended to ensure that applications that are obviously inconsistent with the Conservation Act (or any other relevant statutory planning documents) are assessed up front and processed efficiently.

If your application is declined, you will be notified in writing of this decision and informed of your options. This may include requesting a reconsideration of your application, or resubmitting a new application (which restarts the process).

Rejecting applications for failing to provide information

If DOC requires more information to enable a decision to be made on an application, they’ll contact the applicant by letter asking them to provide this information by a specified date.

The Conservation Act has been changed to allow DOC to return an application if additional information requested is not provided within the specified timeframe.

If the application does not provide all the required information it is deemed incomplete and returned to the applicant with a letter outlining what is missing. If the applicant decides to resubmit their application it becomes a new application and the application process starts again.

Contact

If you have any questions about these changes and how they will affect your application contact the relevant DOC office

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