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Who can bring an appeal under the RMA?

Who can bring an appeal under the RMA?

Who can bring an appeal under the RMA?

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In Strategic Property Advocacy Network v Auckland Council [2019] NZEnvC 134, the Court considered the definition of “person” in the RMA in order to decide whether the Strategic Property Advocacy Network (“SPAN”) was able to bring an appeal against Auckland Council’s Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (“PAUP”).

SPAN, a group based in the Waitakere Ranges, was an original submitter on part of the PAUP which imposed a default activity status on certain properties in Waitakere, affecting the landowners’ ability to subdivide. SPAN exercised its right to appeal following the High Court’s decision in favour of the default activity status in The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society Incorporated v Auckland Council[1]. Before SPAN’s appeal could be heard and decided upon, the Environment Court had to consider whether SPAN had standing to bring the appeal.

SPAN was innocently unaware that it had been struck off from the Incorporated Societies register when it made its original and further submissions on the PAUP and appealed the High Court decision. The Environment Court considered whether an unincorporated society met the definition of a person who can bring an appeal under the RMA. The Act defines “person” to include a “a body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate”. The Environment Court considered similar decisions in which other groups, also struck off from the Incorporated Societies register, were still permitted to appeal decisions made pursuant to the Act or other associated enactments. The Court found that SPAN had acted in good faith and, more importantly, its members were operating as a collective group when they decided to lodge SPAN’s notice of appeal.

The Environment Court held that SPAN, as an unincorporate body of persons, had standing to bring its appeal, in which there are currently three interested parties (section 274).


For assistance with questions relating to this article, please contact Theresa Le Bas

[1] [2017] NZHC 2141


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