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Source: Environmental Protection Authority

In April, the Minister for the Environment “called in” (or issued a direction) that the ORC’s plan changes be referred to the Environment Court for decision.

This was in response to a formal request by the ORC that the plan changes be “called in”, due to the need for them to be completed in a timely manner. This will provide some certainty for those who take water or undertake activities that have the potential to impact water quality in the region.

Among other things, the plan changes will improve water quality provisions relating to discharges in various situations including landfill management and on farm storage of farm dairy effluent (for the first time in Otago), and will prohibit the use of waste oil as a dust suppressant.

Anyone can make a submission on the plan changes. People who have already made submissions to ORC on the Water Permits Plan Change – which was previously notified in March this year – may submit again if they wish. All submissions, whether they were directed to ORC or to the EPA, will be collated and summarised as one in this submission process.

 The proposed changes are part of ORC’s broader programme of work to give effect to the National Policy Statement (NPS) on freshwater management. In particular, the plan changes put in place interim measures that will apply until a new Land and Water Regional Plan takes effect (anticipated toward the end of 2025). The plan changes respond to section 24A recommendations from the Minister for the Environment on 18 November 2019 following the Skelton Investigation which reviewed freshwater management in the Otago Region.

Submissions close on Monday 17 August 2020.

Read the Minister’s direction and documents describing the proposed plan changes.


The EPA’s role in this process is to publicly notify the proposed plan changes so people can make submissions. Following a second notification for further submissions in September, we will pass on ORC’s proposed plan changes and its submissions to the Environment Court at the end of October. The EPA is not involved in the Environment Court hearing.