The total number of appeals and applications filed in the Environment Court appear to have stabilised over recent years at a level the Court can manage efficiently while maintaining clearance rates that prevent unnecessary delay, the Annual Report of the Registrar of the Environment Court for the year to 30 June 2016 says.
The report says the volume of resource consent appeals is closely linked to the volume of notified applications being processed by the local authorities, and plan appeal numbers fluctuate as planning instruments undergo change.
"While case numbers are an indicator of the demand placed on court resources, they are not the only indicator," the report says. "Other factors such as case size, number of parties/topics and complexity influence the level of judicial intervention through case management, mediation, expert witness conferencing and ultimately any hearing that may be required."
In the year to 30 June 2016 the court received 428 new registrations and disposed of 422, with the overall clearance rate being 98%.
Cases filed and disposed in Environment Court, year to 30 June
*Includes designation, enforcement and statutory applications, appeals against abatement notices and other matters filed under states other than the Resource Management Act 1991.
The report notes that section 268 of the Resource Management Act empowers the Court to arrange mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. It says the Court actively encourages this and consequently "the majority of cases will undergo mediation".
Court-annexed mediation volumes and outcomes, year to 30 June
|Total number of mediation events||232||164||165||267||362|
|Agreement reached in full||66||63||68||134||155|
|Agreement reached in part||83||49||39||72||110|
|Agreement not reached||49||42||44||31||65|
*Some mediation topics/events have yet to record a final outcome.