We are responsible for regulating activities affecting water, air, land and the coast to promote the sustainable management of our environment.
Our compliance teams help our community meet our rules and regulations through compliance monitoring, education, advice, investigations and enforcement. We use compliance to promote behaviour change and enable consent holders, and the wider community, to take ownership of resource management issues, and incorporate best practice which goes beyond the minimum requirements. The Compliance team uses both regulatory and non-regulatory tools and works with a range of teams across ORC to achieve a coordinated approach.
What we do
Monitoring consented and permitted activities
ORC is responsible for monitoring compliance with resource consent conditions and permitted activities like dairy and forestry with our plans and national regulations. Our Compliance Monitoring and Regulatory Data and Systems teams all receive and analyse monitoring data, conduct aerial monitoring, and undertake site visits.
Of the 2,069 consents monitored in 2019-20, most consents were compliant or had only minor or technical non-compliance recorded. Our compliance team were required to follow up on 19% of them to improve performance. For permitted activities, 87% were compliant with the rules and 13% required compliance follow up.
Investigating incidents which impact our environment
Our Investigations team has a key role in responding to incidents where unlawful activities impact our environment. We responded to 1,184 incidents in 2019-20 and took appropriate action where it was needed.
How we respond to non-compliance
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing non-compliance. ORC’s approach and use of regulatory tools depends on the issue, context and seriousness of the breach as illustrated below:
Influencing behaviour change (based on Regional Sector Strategic Compliance Framework)
Our Investigations team respond to reports of environmental non-compliance and pollution incidents that are received through our 24-hour pollution hotline, website and email messages, or from field reports from staff.
Environmental incidents are prioritised according to the level of risk and immediacy of effects. For incidents that are a high priority due to significant potential effects on the environment or people, our team responds immediately where possible, and always within 24 hours of the incident being reported. For incidents that are a lower priority, the timing of the response is dependent on the level of risk. All incidents are responded to and reported.
We use a range of compliance and enforcement tools to respond to non-compliant resource consents and incidents that breach our plans or national regulations:
Letters - Used where a minor breach has been reported and/or to educate on the relevant consent conditions, rules and regulations that apply.
Formal warnings - Used when the risk to the environment or people from a breach is low and to work proactively to improve compliance to avoid repeat incidents.
Infringement notice - Used when non-compliance with a consent condition or with rules requires a more formal approach and where a fee is required to be paid.
Abatement notices - Used when non-compliance with consent conditions or rules require works to cease and/or where remediation is required.
Enforcement orders - Used for higher level offending, made by the Environment Court, and requires activities to cease, actions to be taken and/or costs to be paid.
Prosecution - For higher level offending, establishes the guilt or innocence of an accused party, and can include fines and/or imprisonment.
Compliance Plan 2023-2026
The Compliance Plan is ORC’s roadmap of compliance priorities for the next 3 years. The Compliance Plan informs ORC’s work in accordance with our obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991, and the national compliance direction set for all regional councils under the Regional Sector Strategic Compliance Framework.
The Compliance Plan is used to inform our work programme. By monitoring progress against our priorities, ORC is agile in responding to those issues that are most important for Otago’s environment.
Resource Management Act Compliance and Enforcement Policy
This policy sets out the approach and principles by which the ORC promotes and enforces compliance with the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and provides an outline of how RMA compliance and enforcement is managed. This policy is intended to ensure a consistent and integrated approach to compliance and enforcement by ORC.
Formal Warning Policy
The policy is aimed at ensuring a consistent approach by ORC to the use of warnings in appropriate circumstances, and when addressing conduct that may be an offence, any response taken will follow due process and public interest considerations, while at the same time not overburdening the Courts with matters that can be effectively resolved through other enforcement routes.
Burn Dry, Breathe Easy
Make sure the wood you are burning is dry. It’s better for your home and the environment.
If you’re planning on running a composting operation of any size, there are some rules in the regional Water Plan and Waste Plan that you need to take into consideration.
Contaminants in soil can cause adverse effects on both human health and the environment through both short-term and long-term exposure.
Well-managed effluent is a great source of fertiliser. Making sure it stays on the land and doesn’t leach or runoff (to water) helps ensure local waterways (rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands) stay healthy.
The forestry sector is important to Otago's economy. However, forestry can have negative effects on our environment, especially water quality.
Good practice information
Waterway health can be affected by how land is managed. If you're a farmer, viticulturalist, horticulturalist, or any other type of land owner, here are some fact sheets to help.
New Water Rules
We welcome the Action for Healthy Waterways regulations, which are designed to restore and protect the health of New Zealand waterways.
Otago is a big region, and we rely on the public to let us know when and where they see pollution.
It is estimated that around 14,600 Otago properties, or 38,000 people (around one in five Otago residents) are serviced by septic tanks.
Stock truck effluent
Stock effluent spillage from cartage trucks onto Otago roads can be dangerous to other road users and cause problems.
Wetlands and estuaries
Otago’s diverse landscapes have produced an array of wetlands. They include forest swamps, valley floor bogs, sub-alpine swamps and inland salt pans.
Fish passage and instream stuctures
New Zealand has more than 50 species of native freshwater and sports fish. It’s important that instream structures such as culverts and weirs are designed to allow for fish passage.