Land and Water Regional Plan


The Otago Regional Council is developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), with mana whenua Kāi Tahu, to protect Otago’s precious waterways for future generations.

On this page:

Journey to notification

Common questions answered

The plan's status

The path to a plan


Our draft Plan is one of the first in the country heading towards public notification. Once the plan is notified, a submission and hearings process will begin. Parts of the Plan will have legal effect at this time.


Journey to notification

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to give feedback on the proposed new rules in our draft land and water plan. We received over 550 responses from members of the community wanting to have their voice heard on the draft plan.

So far, the main areas of feedback have been around:

  • changes around setbacks from waterbodies for various farming activities
  • limits on the number of cows per hectare as a measure of intensity
  • restrictions on the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used per hectare
  • minimum flows for the Manuherekia River

Feedback was analysed in November 2023, and presented to Council in December 2023.

Over the period January 2024 to August 2024, we will complete statutory consultation with those who could be affected by the plan. This will include Iwi authorities as well as stakeholders such as city and district councils, central government, industry groups, and environmental groups.

After finishing the statutory consultation ORC will get the plan ready for public notification. One notified, everyone will be able to read the proposed plan, and make formal submissions on it should they choose to. More details on how to make a formal submission will be available before notifying the plan.


Revised land and water work programme through to notification

Originally scheduled to be notified by end of June, on 27 March this year Council requested that staff delay the planned notification until 31 October 2024. The final draft plan will come to a council meeting on 23 October, when Council will be asked to formally notify the Plan. This stage is a milestone 4 years in the making; a collaborative effort between Councillors, mana whenua, Council staff, and a lot of input from our community and stakeholders including 3 public consultation stages between Nov 2021 and Nov 2023 resulting in more than a thousand individual pieces of feedback - showing it really does take a community to make a plan for the future.​

Where we are in the process

1. Feedback on environmental actions (last year)

Feedback on draft plan (we are here!)

  • Feedback from statutory parties
  • Legal review of plan
  • Section 32 evaluation
  • Iwi partner consultation
  • Environmental Science and Policy briefing
  • Council approval
3. Plan notified/legal effect for some parts
4. Submissions invited
5. Public hearings
6. Hearings panel report
7. ORC decisions made
8. Appeals period
9. Plan replaces the old Water Plan for Otago

There is a programme of work for staff to complete before that date which includes:

Review the provisions of the draft Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) in light of the Hearing Panel’s recommendations on the proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement. These recommendations are in response to matters raised by submitters on the proposed Regional Policy Statement. As the draft LWRP needs to give effect to the proposed Regional Policy Statement, staff need to make sure that draft LWRP is consistent with the policy direction set in the RPS.

Prepare the requested advice for the Minister for the Environment. Following the change in government late last year, changes were announced to national direction and national regulations for the management of Freshwater including a replacement of the current National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) with a new version.

The new Minister for the Environment, Hon Penny Simmonds, wrote to the Otago Regional Council on 15 March 2024, extending the deadline for notifying a proposed Land and Water Regional Plan until 31 December 2027. The extension was to allow ORC to develop the new LWRP in accordance with the forthcoming replacement of the NPS-FM. In that letter, the Minister directed that, should a decision be made to notify ahead of December 2027, ORC must “provide an outline of the costs, benefits and implications of notifying your plan before the NPS-FM is replaced.”

Council has provided this report to the Minister and will ensure feedback received during previous consultations on the LWRP has been appropriately considered and factored into the plan. 

During this time staff will also be:

Talking to representatives from primary production: the forestry sector consultation started a little later than that with others, so we’re making time to hear from them, we’ll also be gathering feedback from the farming sector organisations.

Seeking a legal review of the plan.

Completing the supporting Section 32 Evaluation Report, which considers the positive and negative impacts of the Plan on the community, economy, and environment. This report will allow Council to weigh the pros and cons before making its decision to notify the Plan.

Presenting a copy of the draft plan to our iwi partners for consultation.

In early October staff will brief the Environmental Science and Policy committee on the whole plan. The Environmental Science and Policy committee is a committee of the Otago Regional Council that includes all the Councillors and iwi representatives.

On 23 October Council will be asked to formally notify the Plan.

If approved by Council, this version of the Plan will be notified on 31 October and become the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. As the rules in the LWRP relate to the management of water or soil (for soil conservation) they will have immediate legal effect upon notification of the Plan.


Once the plan is notified, everyone can make formal submissions on the proposed plan. We’ll have more detail about how and when to make a submission closer to this time.

We have an FAQ section that will help answer some questions that you might have if you hold existing resource consents, operate under permitted activity rules in the current plans and/or are planning to undertake new activities that might affect land and water. If you have any other questions, please email: and we will get back to you directly

The Plan's status

Proposed new rules in the Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) for Otago will give new, comprehensive direction for managing land and water resources in the region. The plan is required in New Zealand law, replacing an outdated Otago Regional Council planning framework that is no longer fit for purpose. The Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater 2020 gives effect to new protection for our waterways.

Our planning now must prioritise Te Mana o te Wai, a national policy emphasising that the health of our waterways must come first, above other needs. This national directive applies to all waterways in New Zealand. Our Otago draft plan is one of the first in the country heading towards public notification and a subsequent submission and hearings process. Parts of the plan will have legal effect following notification of the plan.


The path to a plan

We began this journey in 2019 when the Minister for the Environment asked the Otago Regional Council to prepare a new Regional Policy Statement and Land and Water Plan. Previous planning rules and regulations were no longer deemed fit to provide protection for Otago’s waterways and surrounding environment.

Between 2020 and 2022 we engaged with our community around the visions and values people wanted for our waterways and the land affecting them in this new, more in-depth Plan. We also spoke with communities about actions that would help us reach positive environmental outcomes – these were that Otago's freshwater and land activities need to be:

  • Healthy for plants, animals, and people and look after our region for future generations
  • Safe for activities like swimming
  • Beneficial for activities like fishing
  • Sustainably managed; and
  • Respectful of cultural and historical places.


Proposed new rules and regulations (provisions) have now been drafted, with mana whenua Kāi Tahu. This Plan will align with a government goal to improve freshwater quality within one generation.


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