The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has decided it will not make a final call on whether the wreck of the Rena will be removed or not.
Instead chief executive Mary-Anne Macleod said the council would refer the Application for resource consent by the Astrolabe Community Trust to abandon the remains of the ship to the Environment Court.
The container ship ran aground on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga in 2011 and the trust was formed by the owners of the ship who want to leave behind what's left of it.
Ms Macleod said there are a number of reasons for sending it to the Environment Court, including that any decision made by the Council, would likely be appealed.
She said with an appeal inevitable, it made no sense to impose duplicate costs on those submitters who wished to appear in person.
She also said the costs to the ratepayer would be significantly increased if the Council were to hold its own hearings which would only be repeated again at an Environment Court level.