ORC on track with Minister’s recommendation; interim Water Permits plan change consultation started

Media Release - 05 December 2019

To bridge the gap between the expiry of water permits in Otago in 2021, and when a new Regional Policy Statement and Land and Water Plan for Otago will be operative, an interim change to ORC’s water plan was recommended by Minister Parker.

After passing a resolution to do a Water Permits plan change, ORC is commencing pre-notification consultation now.

The short-term policy framework is planned around principles that include:

  • The focus must remain on the bigger picture – the Water Plan review. The Water Permit plan change should be as concise as required to achieve a fit for purpose management regime.
  • Water allocation should be based on water use, not paper allocation.
  • Consideration of potential impacts on existing water abstractors, and existing priorities in deemed permits.
  • Efficiency of time and cost for both ORC, applicants and other parties.
  • Opportunities for data gathering that will inform the Water Plan review should be pursued.


While the long-term focus of water management for Otago will be on reviewing the Regional Policy Statement and the Land and Water Regional Plan, ORC is currently interested in understanding community expectations and views about the interim policy the Water Permit plan change will include.

Thoughts and input towards the scope and content of the proposed Water Permits plan change can be submitted via an online survey from today until 15 December 2019.

The online survey can be found at www.orc.govt.nz/permitsurvey

The plan change will be notified in February 2020, when the public will be invited to make submissions.



If an application is in with Council and is complete at the time a plan change is notified, the application is considered against the objectives and policies in the operative and notified plans. The weight that these new objectives and policies would carry compared to the existing ones is based on direction from the Courts and the weighting criteria includes:

  1. The extent, if any, to which the proposed measure might have been exposed to testing and independent decision making;
  2. Circumstances of injustice;
  3. The extent to which a new measure, or the absence of one, might implement a coherent pattern of objectives and policies in a plan; and
  4. Whether there has been a significant change in Council policy and the new provisions are in accordance with Part 2 of the RMA.

The activity status of the application is ‘frozen’, so it does not change from the one that existed at the time the application was lodged.

How these applications are treated depends on the content of the plan change. The content of this plan is yet to be developed, but there is direction from the Minister that this plan change is small in scope.

Until the plan change is notified applications will continue to be processed in the same manner that they have been. If you would like to talk about progressing your applications, then please get in touch.

The Skelton report and Minister’s recommendations are both matters that could relevantly be considered by a decision-maker under section 104(1)(c). The Minister’s recommendations have been made under section 24A of the RMA, which local authorities are required to act on.

Consent duration needs to be considered on a case by case basis and genuine thought needs to be given to all relevant matters

Any application prepared and lodged now will still need to meet the requirements of the 4th Schedule of the RMA and Section 88. This is because no plan change has been notified and the current rules, objectives and policies apply. Fully completing Council’s application form for water permits and including an assessment in effects that corresponds to the scale and significance of the activity is required.

If you would like to sit down with a senior member of the consents team to talk about your current application or applications you want to lodge, then please contact 0800 470 082 or email deemed.permits@orc.govt.nz

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