Resource Consent holders guide


What is a resource consent?

A resource consent enables you to carry out an activity that you would otherwise be unable to do. There are national and regional rules for undertaking certain activities, and sometimes this means you need a consent. Obtaining a resource consent will provide you with certainty that you can do an activity.

A resource consent allows you to access or use a shared, natural resource such as water, air, land or the coast, with conditions.

The consent process considers the environmental impact of access to these resources and ensures that:

  • any known effects can be addressed
  • those planning new developments consider:
    • potential effects on the environment
    • potential effects on other resource users
    • what precautions can be taken to ensure resources are not damaged or overused

Example permit

Who can apply for or hold a consent?

Anyone can apply for consent for an activity on any property, and the consent does not have to be held by the landowner. It’s common for a person who holds the lease of a property to hold consents on properties they do not own. An example of this is taking water for irrigation on leased properties. If you are unsure who should hold your consent, please get in touch with us by emailing or call 0800 474 082. Please note that gaining resource consent does not guarantee land access.


How is ORC involved with resource consents?

We are responsible for managing and allocating the use of natural resources in Otago. We must comply with regulations and standards imposed by central government, as well as regional planning rules. The regional rules (which consents are assessed against) are contained in these plans:

These plans have been developed in consultation with the community.

The Resource Management Act (RMA) also applies when assessing consents. Where a regional rule states that a consent is required to perform an activity (like taking water for irrigation, building a structure on the coast, or discharging contaminants to land), you must apply to us for a consent. If a consent is not required, there may still be some conditions surrounding your activity. If you’re unsure, please email or call 0800 474 082.

When you apply for a consent, we will assess your application against the relevant regional plans and the RMA. Some consents are reasonably straightforward, and others will require agreement from various people or groups. We often work with the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, tangata whenua or members of the public.

As a consent holder, you will have ongoing contact with us even after your consent is granted. We have a responsibility to monitor your consented activities to ensure that there are no adverse environmental effects, and check that you are complying with the conditions of the consent. Our team is available to discuss your individual circumstances and advise you of your ongoing consent requirements.

Some activities may also require consent from your city or district council, if this is a larger application it may be processed at the same time with both councils. Some examples of this are:

  • Land disturbance at a contaminated site
  • Defence against water/residential development
  • Stormwater discharge
  • Septic tank installation


Who will I talk to at ORC?

We have a number of staff who work with consent holders:

Consents planner

When you apply for a consent you may meet with a consents planner to discuss your requirements and complete application forms. Once you submit an application, it will be managed by a consents planner, who will work with you throughout the consent application process.

Compliance officers

Once you have been granted resource consent, you may be contacted by a member of our compliance team. They are responsible for checking consent conditions are met. Your consent will be assigned a specific compliance officer and you can contact them to discuss any issues. It’s best to discuss a problem early, before it escalates.


What are the important dates?

If you are granted consent, you are issued with a legal consent document. This contains the start date and the date your consent is granted. It is usually shown on the last page of the consent document. From this date through to the consent expiry date, you are authorised to carry out your activity so long as you follow the conditions of your consent.

Expiry date

This is the date that your consent ends. It is usually shown on the front page of the consent document. When your consent expires, the activity cannot legally continue. To renew your consent and continue the consented activity, we must receive applications six months before the consent expires.

Lapse date

If you have not used the consent by this date, it will end. Think of it as a ‘use it or lose it’ date. It is typically shown in the conditions of the consent. If there is no date specified, the consent will lapse five years after the date of issue. The purpose of this date is to ensure that access to resources is not allocated to those who do not use it. If you think you will not use your consent before it lapses, you can apply for an extension of the lapse date.

Review dates

These are the dates when we will review the conditions of your consent, for any of the reasons specified. They are shown in the body of the consent document, typically under the consent conditions, and are usually a month of the year. Please keep your legal consent document in a secure place and regularly check that you are fully aware of and following the conditions.


What if ORC has the wrong details?

We only hold the details that are provided with an application, so it's important to advise us of any changes - if you don’t tell us, we won’t know. Contact or call 0800 474 082 to find out how to update any of your consent or contact details. We cannot make a change to your consent without a written application.


What if I want to sell my property?

Land use are attached to the land and transfer automatically to the new owner when land is sold. Other consents (e.g. water permits and discharge consents) are not automatically transferred when land is sold they are legal documents owned by an individual or entity. If you sell or subdivide, these consents do not automatically change hands. If you have sold and do not want to retain ownership of the consent, you need to transfer it, either at the time of sale or as soon as possible afterwards. Transfer forms are available online, or from our offices.


What if I don’t use the consent?

If your consented activity stops, you may surrender the consent by filling in a consent surrender form. It’s important to note that once a consent is surrendered, if you then want to ‘get it back’, you must make a new consent application, which may or may not be granted, for example, where known environmental effects of an activity exist.

Annual charges still apply to unused consents. We have to undertake work related to your consent, even if you are not using it. If you have not used your consent before the lapse date your consent will expire, unless you apply for an extension. You can discuss this with a compliance officer or a consents officer.


Will a resource consent cost money?

There are various application costs, annual costs and monitoring costs involved with applying for and holding a resource consent. If you wish to comment on these charges, you can do so by making a submission to our annual plan each year. It is important that you understand these charges so they do not come as a surprise when invoice(s) arrive. However, once charges are fixed in the annual plan, they cannot be changed outside of the annual plan process.

You are welcome to make general consent enquiries with a consents planner on 0800 474 082. If you hold a consent you can also ask to talk with your compliance officer.


What are my responsibilities?

To comply with all conditions of the consent

Once you are granted a consent, you become a legal consent holder. You must meet any conditions ORC imposes on your activity. It is your legal responsibility to read your consent document and ensure you comply with these conditions.

Pay all relevant charges

As the consent holder, you are responsible for paying the annual consent charges. You will also be invoiced for the costs of consent processing and compliance officer visits. Annual charges are detailed in ‘Fees and Charges’, which is available online or from a consents officer.

Keep us informed

You are responsible for the ‘upkeep’ of the consent. If the consented activity changes, you must notify us using the appropriate form. You must also advise us (in writing) if your address or company name changes. Forms are available here, or a consents officer can help you select the correct form.

Apply for changes in writing

To make a change, you have to submit a written application. We cannot make changes to your legal consent document without an application from you, even if you have previously discussed changes with our staff.

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