Jurisdiction of the Environment Court

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About the court

The Environment Court was constituted under the Resource Management Amendment Act 1996.

The Environment Court is a national court which sits in a number of courthouses in different parts of the country. Judges are permanently located in three registries in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. However, Environment Judges from the three main centres travel to other locations to hear matters as needed, and will sit and hear matters as close as possible to the location of the issues in dispute.

The Environment Court is an appellate court, meaning that it will consider matters afresh. The majority of the court's work involves hearing appeals about issues that arise under the Resource Management Act 1991, with most of its workload coming from appeals brought against decisions of local authorities. These appeals are typically brought against decisions made on plan changes and policy statements and decisions made on resource consent applications.

Appeals & applications the court can hear under the Act

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the Environment Court can determine:

  • Regional/district plans: appeals about the content of regional and district plans and policy statements. 
  • Resource consents: appeals arising out of applications for resource consent (e.g. land use, subdivisions, coastal permits, water permits, discharge permits or a combination of these).
  • Public works/projects: designations authorising public works such as energy projects, hospitals, schools, prisons, sewerage works, refuse landfills, fire stations, major roads and bypasses.
  • Enforcement proceedings: enforcement proceedings (including interim Enforcement Orders) are filed to ask the court to make an Order to stop work or an activity, or require someone to do something to ensure compliance with a plan or fix effects on the environment.
  • Declarations: declarations are filed to determine the legal status of environmental activities and instruments.
  • Abatement notices: appeals against abatement notices issued by the Council requiring activities be stopped or effects on the environment be rectified.

Other statutes under which the Court has jurisdiction

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 (external link)

Forests Act 1949 (external link)

Local Government Act 1974 (external link)

Transit New Zealand Act 1989 (external link)

Electricity Act 1992 (external link)

Crown Minerals Act 1991 (external link)

Biosecurity Act 1993 (external link)

Public Works Act 1981 (external link)

Land Transport Management Act 2003 (external link)

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