Before you apply for a consent


Before you apply for a consent, it's important to understand when and why you may need one. 

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) the Otago Regional Council creates rules to regulate activities like taking water from a stream, modifying the beds or rivers and lakes and outdoor burning. The RMA focuses on using our resources sustainably, and encouraging individuals and communities to think about the impact on their environment while they meet their social, economic, and cultural needs.

Any organisation or person who wants to do an activity that affects the environment in some way likely needs a consent. Our rules aim to prevent harm to our communities, and to protect our air, water, soil and ecosystems – in this way we build a future for generations to thrive.

Some activities may require resource consents from your local district council as well as the regional council. If this applies to you, you can put in your applications to both councils at the same time.
If you would like more information about the rules and how they might affect you, please call 0800 474 082 or email


Pre-application meetings

Pre-application meetings provide an opportunity for us to help you understand what consents might be needed and for you to chat about your proposal with council staff before applying for resource consent. Processing an application is generally simpler, quicker and less costly if the applicant has already sought the council's advice on the relevant plan provisions and information requirements before making an application.

The costs related to this service include, but are not limited to: administration, research, meeting time, taking minutes, distribution of meeting notes, and question follow ups follow up advice.

An overall pre-application service typically requires 2-4 hours to complete. Thirty (30) minutes of work carried out by the Consents Officer is free of charge. The remaining work is charged at the relevant officer's hourly rate in accordance with the fees and charges schedule.

To book a pre-application meeting fill in the "Request for Pre-Application Advice Form" and email it to 




resource consents public enquiries diagram.


Activities that require resource consents 


If your proposed activity involves using or disturbing a river or lake bed in any of the following ways, you will need a land use consent. For example:

  • drilling or altering a bore 
  • performing works which will alter a river or lake or a river or lake bed (e.g. dredging, reclamation) 
  • building a structure in a river or lake bed (e.g. a jetty). 

If your proposed activity involves discharging a contaminant or water into water, onto or into land, or into the air in any of the following ways, you will need a discharge permit. For example: 

  • releasing contaminated stormwater into natural water
  • discharging sediment-laden stormwater from a quarry or from a long-term sediment producing site 
  • discharging wastes, whether treated or untreated, into or onto land, into the air or into water. 

If your proposed activity involves taking, damming or diverting water in any of the following ways, you will need a water permit. For example: 

  • taking and/or using water from a river, stream, dam, lake, spring, well or bore 
  • damming a watercourse 
  • diverting surface water (e.g. by piping or bridging, or by realigning a watercourse). 


If your proposed activity involves the coastal marine area (which includes the foreshore, the seabed, the sea surface and the air out to the territorial limit) in any of the following ways, you will need a coastal permit: 

  • taking and/or using water from an estuary or the sea 
  • discharging wastes, whether treated or untreated, into coastal waters 
  • performing works which will alter the foreshore or sea bed (e.g. removing sand, reclamation) 
  • building any structure on the foreshore or sea bed (e.g. a sea wall) 
  • diverting coastal water 
  • occupying the coastal marine area (e.g. moorings, boat sheds). 

Activities where resource consents are not required 

Some activities are allowed under Regional Plans and National Environmental Standards. If your activity is one of these, you won’t need a resource consent. There are criteria for these activities to ensure that the environment is protected.   

You do not need a resource consent to take fresh water for your reasonable domestic fresh water needs, for stock or for firefighting, as long as these activities have no adverse environmental effects. 


Certificate of Compliance

If you would like proof from us to say that your activity doesn't need consent, you can apply for a ‘Certificate of Compliance'.


What is a Certificate of Compliance?

A Certificate of Compliance is formal confirmation that an activity is permitted under our rules and plans and/or regulations in a National Environmental Standard. You will not need resource consent if you have a Certificate of Compliance for your activity.

A Certificate of Compliance is not mandatory but can be useful for insurance purposes or to provide certainty.

Anyone can apply for a Certificate of Compliance, and it is up to you to provide us with evidence that you meet the rules. We may need a little more information, but we will let you know if that is the case.


What happens if I change my plans after I get a Certificate of Compliance?

If the activity changes after you are issued with a Certificate of Compliance, then it is unlikely you will have protection under the original approval, and you should come back to us.


Applying for a Certificate of Compliance

To apply for a Certificate of Compliance, you will need to complete the application for a certificate of compliance:



Your application must include:

  • A full description of the proposal and the site where the activity will be undertaken
  • A clear explanation of how the activity/proposal meets all the relevant provisions of the regional plan, and any relevant national environmental standard. You may choose to present this information as a table listing each provision and showing how the activity/proposal complies
  • Copies of all necessary plans, details and calculations to enable the proposal to be checked for compliance with the regional plan.

Once completed, this application can be emailed to



The application involves a deposit of $1,750 which should be paid when you submit your application. This deposit is not likely to cover the full processing costs and you will receive an invoice. Information on how to pay this deposit can be found here.


Time frame

Council has 20 working days to process an application for a Certificate of Compliance.

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