Preparation of Otago Regional Policy Statement 2021

As part of the review of Otago Regional Council’s planning framework in November 2019 under s24 of the RMA, Minister for the Environment David Parker recommended that ORC prepares and notifies a new RPS by November 2020.

This is to allow it to be operative by 1 April 2022, and to be in place in time for the review of the Water Plan, scheduled to be notified as the Land and Water Regional Plan by the end of 2023.

The Minister’s original November 2020 deadline for a new RPS to be notified was extended to June 2021 to allow for further consultation on freshwater visions as required by the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020, and discussed below.

The new RPS must also comply with the National Planning Standards (including e-planning), and take account of a range of new or amended national guidance (national policy statements and national environmental standards) and legislation that has developed since the Partially Operative Otago Regional Policy Statement 2019 was originally developed. 

Consultation and development Process

Community consultation
The first phase of consultation in February 2020 included an online survey seeking feedback on the natural and physical resources which the community valued and those which they were concerned about. ORC also sought feedback on Significant Resource Management Issues prepared from a workshop held with Councillors.

Following the feedback on the online survey, a second phase of consultation began in March 2020. Facilitated discussions were held in Oamaru, Dunedin, Tapanui and Balclutha. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, meetings in Alexandra and Queenstown were cancelled.

Read a report about Phase 1 and Phase 2 consultation here

Reference Groups
To enable community feedback on the RPS during Covid-19 restrictions, ORC asked suitably qualified or experienced and interested people to express their interest in joining one of a series of online reference groups, reflecting the framework of the new RPS (as determined by the National Planning Standards). These groups reviewed and gave advice on the draft policy direction in the RPS.

Freshwater Visions
In September 2020, the government released the Essential Freshwater reforms to stop degradation of NZ’s waterways and improve water quality and the health of associated ecosystems.

One of the new requirements under the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 is for all regional councils to work with tangata whenua and communities to develop long-term freshwater visions for Freshwater Management Units (FMUs). Otago has five FMUs, one of which (the Clutha Mata-au FMU) is further divided into five rohe (areas) due to size. The freshwater visions are included as objectives in the new proposed Otago RPS.

ORC consulted with communities around Otago in October and November 2020. Read a report on this process here.

Statutory Consultation
In April and May 2021, ORC undertook Clause 3 and Clause 4A consultation under Schedule 1 of the Resource Management Act 1991. Clause 3 names several key stakeholders who must be given the chance to review the draft RPS before notification (other key participants in the development process, including reference group members, were also included in this group). Clause 4A requires a final review by takata whenua.

These are the final external reviews the Act requires prior to notification. As a matter of good practice, the document has also undergone legal review.

On 26 June 2021, we notified a new proposed Regional Policy Statement. Submissions closed on 3 September 2021. You can read the Proposed RPS 21 here.

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