Who manages the roads?

Otago’s roads are looked after by the Otago Regional Council (ORC), Territorial Authorities, and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Authority. Territorial Authorities maintain local roads, and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency maintain State Highways throughout Otago. The ORC’s role in road maintenance is to protect you from negative environmental effects of activities, such as dust generation associated with the use of unsealed roads.

The use of oil for dust suppression

In parts of Otago waste oil has historically been used as a dust suppressant on roads. This practice can give rise to environmental contamination because of heavy metals and other noxious elements within the oil entering the ground in the treated areas – ultimately entering groundwater, as well as water bodies being contaminated by runoff. Wind or traffic can also spread the contamination in the dust and, depending on the nature of the substances, these can be a hazard to public health.

With safer alternatives to waste oil now more readily available, the use of waste oil as a dust suppressant is now a prohibited activity.

What is waste oil?

All motor vehicle users generate waste oil, and it is also produced wherever machinery is used. The toxicity of oil derives from heavy metal additives or combustion products.

Safer alternatives

There are many safer alternatives to waste oil that can be used as an effective dust suppressant:

  • New vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Products approved by the Environmental Protection Authority for use as a dust suppressant.

For more information, search the Environmental Protection Authority database for approved products.

Territorial Authority funding

Some Territorial Authorities throughout Otago offer assistance with dust suppressants.


Dunedin City Council (DCC)

You can apply to the DCC for a 100-metre application of dust suppressant on the road or roads adjacent to your property.

For more information, see the Dunedin City Council website.


Clutha District Council (CDC)

Residents can apply for a semi-permanent seal to be applied to a section of road. This requires meeting certain criteria, and a priority list has been developed to help carry out this process. If you meet the criteria, you are eligible for a 50% subsidy on 100 metre length of road.

For more information, see the Clutha District Council website.


Central Otago District Council (CODC)

The CODC applies dust suppressant to 100m sections of gravel roads where there is a house located within 100m of a gravel road. Contact CODC if you require a suppressant to be applied to a gravel road.

For more information, see the Central Otago District Council website.


Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC)

The QLDC does not currently subsidise dust suppressant activities.

For more information, see the Queenstown Lakes District Council website.


Waitaki District Council 

Waitaki District Council has a draft Dust Suppression policy (Policy 106) where, property owners may apply in writing to Council to have a specific section of a maintained rural public road treated for dust suppression for residential dwellings or primary production where a dust nuisance is demonstrated.

Currently Waitaki District Council does not apply dust suppressants.

For more information, see the Waitaki District Council website.

When do you need consent?

You will need to apply to ORC for a resource consent to apply a dust suppressant to roads, if any of these apply:

The dust suppressant is a hazardous substance and is not approved under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

This applies to substances that are:

  • Explosive
  • Flammable
  • Have a capacity to oxidise
  • Corrosive
  • Toxic (including chronic toxicity)
  • Ecotoxic, with or without bioaccumulation.

The discharge will produce an objectionable odour, or a conspicuous oil or grease, film, scum or foam in any:

  • Lake, river or natural wetland; or
  • Drain or water race that flows to a lake, river, natural wetland or coastal marine area; or
  • Bore or soak hole

The discharge will be undertaken in a manner that results in ponding or overland flow that enters any:

  • Lake, river, natural wetland or coastal marine area; or
  • Drain or water race that goes to any lake, river, natural wetland or coastal marine area

No application for the use of waste oil can be made as it is prohibited.

For more information, see the the Regional Plan: Waste Plan Change 1.

Where can I find the rules?

Chapter 6 of the Regional Plan: Waste Plan Change 1 is to manage the risk of hazardous substances and hazardous wastes to the environment and human health, and on traditional water, land and mahika kai of importance to Kāi Tahu.

If you have any questions, email consent.enquiries@orc.govt.nz.