The Westland District Council has transferred its mining consents and compliance monitoring duties to the West Coast Regional Council in a move it says will streamline processes for the mining sector.

The transfer was first mooted three years ago and got as far as a deed of transfer.

However, despite heavyweight support from the mining sector, opposing submissions - focused largely around conflicts of interest with the regional council - were more vocal at the commissioners hearing.

Many were concerned that compliance monitoring procedures would not be adequately carried out by the regional council and a separation of functions was needed to ensure there was limited scope for bias, corruption and conflict of interest.

Yesterday, the majority of the 117 submissions received favoured improving efficiency.

Planning community and environment group manger Jim Ebenhoh said the transfer would create more efficiency and avoid duplication, with one resource consent application having to be submitted to one council instead of two.

It did not mean a "completely easy ride for the mining sector", Mr Ebenhoh said.

Mining in Westland was a fairly contentious activity due to the rise in the price of gold over the years and the increased pressure on land for both mining and rural residential activity.

"When this potential conflict is filtered through the District Plan considerations and the notification requirement of the (Resource Management Act) the result is that some mining applications will take some time to work through the processes. Further information requests, notification and hearings will not cease just because of the transfer of functions," he said.

Compliance monitoring, for example, was also likely to be stricter.

In recent years the council's resourcing constraints had led to "ad-hoc" complaint-based approaches to monitoring.

He said the regional council was likely to be more proactive in its mining compliance monitoring and enforcement.

Regional council consents and compliance manager Gerard McCormack, who attended the district council meeting yesterday, agreed their focus would initially be on the environmental side.

Councillors asked questions about the effect on revenue and how it might free up staff time in the planning department.

However, Mr Ebenhoh said there would be no significant change.

When put to the table the transfer was agreed to unanimously. Cr Durham Havill said it was a logical move. "I know that in my experiences that most miners and people out their believe that having only one authority to deal with is a wise option."

- Hokitika Guardian