Media release

Media release: ORC ratifies operative Regional Plan changes | Otago Regional Council

Monday 4 July 2022

The Otago Regional Council has ratified proposed changes to the operative Regional Plan: Waste for Otago, which now prohibits oil use as a dust suppressant and includes some new policy around landfills.

ORC’s General Manager Policy and Science Anita Dawe says the reason behind proposing PC1 was to strengthen the ORC’s regional planning framework in the interim period while a new Land and Water Regional Plan is developed, with the new planning framework required to be notified by December 2023.

“The Chapter 7 (Landfills) changes include a new policy and changes to an existing policy, to better manage landfills. No new rules relating to landfills were introduced,” Ms Dawe says.

On 30 May this year the Environment Court released a decision endorsing the Plan Change 1 provisions. The period for appeals to the High Court expired on 22 June, with none lodged. By the ORC ratifying the proposed PC1 provisions at its 29 June meeting last week, PC1 can now become operative, which is set to happen on Saturday, 9 July.



Ms Dawe says “no new rules relating to landfills were introduced as part of Plan Change 1, but it does include a new policy and changes to an existing policy relating to landfills’’.

Once PC1 is made operative on 9 July by the ORC, the operative version of these provisions will replace the notified version, and so will need to be considered by any decision maker in relation to any application in progress, as required by the Resource Management Act, Ms Dawe says. 


Bird strike and defining airports as Nationally Significant Infrastructure 

Ms Dawe says the existing policy was not considered to properly assess airports when siting a new landfill.

“A new policy was agreed which provided for that consideration of airports and the impact landfills can have on them, including the potential for bird strike,” she says.

The Environment Court decision noted that the potential for negative effects of landfills on airports was discussed at mediation, and as a result, a new policy was agreed.

That policy provides guidance on assessing discharges from new and operating landfills within 13 kilometres of airports, which are defined as Nationally Significant Infrastructure, in order to prevent the landfill increasing any existing risk of bird strike.

It was also agreed to include an advice note to clarify the reference to “airports defined as Nationally Significant Infrastructure”, the decision said.


Oil prohibited as a road dust suppressant

The PC1 changes within Chapter 6 (Dust suppressants) means once it becomes operative it will be prohibited to use waste oil as a dust suppressant on roads.

“The dust suppressants changes included prohibiting the use of waste oil, changing the permitted activity rule to bring it in line with other regional councils, and amending the discretionary activity rule,” Ms Dawe says.

Dusty rural gravel road


Background to PC1 becoming operative 

PC1 was part of a larger proposed Plan Change, called the Omnibus Plan Change, which was “called in’’ for fast-tracking by Minister for the Environment David Parker in April 2020 and was referred to the Environment Court.

The overall Omnibus Plan Change included Plan Change 1 to the Regional Plan: Waste and also Plan Change 8 to the Regional Plan: Water; aspects of the latter having been ratified by Council last month, which became operative on 4 June.

The mediation for PC1 was undertaken in September 2021, with all parties in agreement on amendments relating to Chapter 6 (Dust suppressants) of the Waste Plan.

For mediation on Chapter 7 (Landfills), eight of the nine parties signed the mediation agreement, but the Environment Court subsequently struck out ninth party’s submission as being “out of scope”. 

Ms Dawe acknowledged all the parties involved in the PC1 changes, for their willingness to engage in a constructive mediation process, which resulted in a good environmental and policy outcome.

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