Media release

ORC adopts Draft Long-term Plan 2021-31 for consultation

Wednesday 24 March 2021

The consultation period will run from 9 April to 9 May, including information and submission forms online and a consultation document distributed to mailboxes region wide.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) has today adopted its Draft Long-term Plan (LTP) for the next ten years at a Council meeting in Oamaru. The plan will be subject to a consultation period before it can be finalised and adopted in June.

ORC Chair Andrew Noone said the LTP sets out an ambitious program of improvements to meet the growing expectations for Otago’s environmental management.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do as a Council. The requirements on regional councils around the country are increasing as the government and our communities take a more urgent interest in environmental issues. We’ve set out an ambitious work programme in the Draft LTP to respond to these expectations.”

The LTP proposes a total rates increase for Otago of 47.5% in year one, comprising a 73.2% general rates increase ($80 per household on average) and a 29.3% targeted rates increase.

“We know the first questions from our ratepayers when we bring an Annual Plan or LTP to the table are, ‘What will it cost?’ and ‘What will it pay for?’,” Cr Noone said.

“We recognise the proposed rates increase is a big step up from where Otago rates have been in the past. Unfortunately, those low rates are no longer sustainable with the work programme in front of us. Catching up with the 0% general rates rise that we absorbed last year during Covid-19 lockdown, as well as the extra resource taken on in science and regulation this year, meant a 35% total rates increase before we even began to consider the next ten years.”

Cr Noone said the big areas of improvement were in science and monitoring, policy, and regulation.

“We’re investing in more comprehensive and detailed environmental monitoring and science, to give us the best information basis for managing land, water and biodiversity in Otago. We’re ramping up our policy work on a new Land and Water Regional Plan that sets out the rules and policies to protect Otago’s environmental values, in line with national direction. And we’re improving our regulatory function, which includes more capacity for consenting and compliance. These are all core functions which, over the long-term, have really important benefits for Otago’s environment.”

The consultation period will run from Friday, 9 April, to Sunday, 9 May, during which the public can have their say on the Draft LTP. A consultation document will be in mailboxes during that period, while submissions can also be made online via the ORC website.

“This is a big year for ORC, and it’s a big LTP, so we really encourage people to engage with the proposals and let us know what you think. The consultation document sets out three key areas where we are asking for feedback. These are our biosecurity service levels and funding, how we balance the overall LTP budget, and how we spread the cost to rehabilitate Lake Hayes. You can also comment on any other aspect of the LTP.

“The consultation period starts in just over two weeks and runs for a month, so there’s plenty of time to consider the options and make a submission. Look out for more information in your letterbox soon, and do take the opportunity to have your say – we’d love to have your input,” Cr Noone said.