Media release

Media release: Freshwater elements of ORC plan to be re-notified at end of month

Friday 16 September 2022

Otago Regional Council chair Andrew Noone is pleased that Council has approved the freshwater parts of the proposed Regional Policy Statement, for renotification - following a recent High Court decision requiring the pRPS to be separated into freshwater and non-freshwater parts.

The freshwater element of the pRPS will be re-notified at the end of the month for submissions.

The Council resolved on Thursday 15th September that only part of the pRPS related to freshwater, and approved that those freshwater parts be re-notified.

“The High Court judgement provides clear direction on which [freshwater] provisions can form part of a freshwater planning instrument (FPI),” says Mr Noone.

The pRPS is the cornerstone document for the council’s forthcoming Land and Water Regional Plan.

Mr Noone says despite the clarity of the judgement, it has not been a simple exercise to apply that direction to the provisions in the RPS.

“Staff have been working through how to determine the freshwater parts, and this has resulted in a small number of provisions and definitions in the RPS relating to freshwater.”

“Notably, Council have approved the inclusion of the objective expressing Te Mana o te Wai and the associated policy setting out the decision-making priorities, as well as the long-term visions for the FMUs [Freshwater Management Units] and rohe,” Mr Noone says.

He says the provisions which ORC considered did not meet the test set out by the High Court were considered not to directly relate to the management of water quality and/or quantity.

“While the High Court decision was clear on what relates to freshwater, applying those criteria to the provisions in the pRPS has been a challenging exercise,” he says.

The Freshwater Planning Instrument will now be notified on 30 September, with the submission period closing on 28 November.


The High Court heard the declaration in February and released its decision in July, which said ORC erred in determining the whole RPS was a freshwater instrument, and set out how to determine what relates to freshwater.

The High Court determined that to be related to freshwater, a provision must directly relate to managing freshwater quality and quantity.

The High Court directed ORC to split the RPS into two parts; those that relate to freshwater and those that did not.

The provisions which do not relate to freshwater do not have to be notified again. A hearings panel has been appointed and will be provided with the non-freshwater parts, and will in due course issue a Minute. The panel will be made up of Ron Crosby (Chair), Allan Cubitt, Rauru Kirikiri and Bianca Sullivan.