Regional Policy Statement

The Regional Policy Statement (RPS) sets the direction for future management of Otago's natural and physical resources. It provides the foundation for the development of regional plans and district plans.


The Regional Policy Statement for Otago 1998 is now revoked.

The Partially Operative Otago Regional Policy Statement 2019 has been updated and is available here


Public Notice - 05 March 2021

Additions to Partially Operative Otago Regional Policy Statement 2019

The Otago Regional Council has approved provisions to be made operative and added to the Partially Operative Regional Policy Statement 2019 on March 15 2021. The Otago Regional Council made parts of the proposed Regional Policy Statement operative in January 2019, forming the Partially Operative Regional Policy Statement 2019.

Some proposed provisions were not made operative because they were not finalised at that stage, being subject to ongoing appeals or lacking Environment Court approval.

Because only some parts of the proposed Regional Policy Statement were made operative, parts of the previous Regional Policy Statement for Otago 1998 remained operative.

Most of the remaining proposed provisions are now finalised. Council has elected to make them operative so that the remaining parts of the 1998 RPS can be revoked. This will simplify the regulatory landscape for Local Authorities’ planning and consenting processes.

Some provisions relating to port operations are still under appeal and can’t yet be made operative. This will be done when they are finalised.

The Council, following recommendations from the Minister for the Environment and updated national directions, is currently drafting a new regional policy statement. This document is due for notification in June 2021 and, once operative, will replace the Partially Operative Regional Policy Statement 2019.

Read public notice (Additions to Partially Operative Otago Regional Policy Statement 2019) pdf here.


Regional Policy Statement Review 2020

The RPS is under review.  As part of the review of the Otago Planning Framework in November 2019 under s24 of the RMA, Minister for the Environment David Parker has 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. 

ORC has begun work on the review by undertaking community consultation. The first phase of consultation included an online survey seeking feedback on the natural and physical resources which the community valued and those which they were concerned about. It also sought feedback on the nine draft Significant Resource Management Issues prepared from a workshop held with Councillors. The nine draft issues can be found here. This survey was undertaken in February 2020. 

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

Read a summary of the consultation completed in February/March 2020 here.

Reference Groups

To ensure we can still got feedback from the community during the drafting stage of the RPS, we asked suitably qualified and/or experienced and interested people to express their interested in being part of reference groups, each reflecting a topic of the new RPS. Participants could nominate themselves for one or more of the reference groups. Applications closed on 27 May, and we received 191 applications to be involved. A panel has now appointed the members of each of the reference groups. Click here for details. They will now start reviewing and giving advice on the policy direction on the main issues of the RPS.

Freshwater Visions

The government recently 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 is for all regional councils to work with tangata whenua and communities to develop long-term freshwater visions for Freshwater Management Units (FMUs), or part of FMUs, or catchments. In Otago, we have five FMUs, one of which (the Clutha/Mata-Au FMU) is further divided into five rohe (areas) due to size.

The freshwater visions need to be included as objectives in the new Regional Policy Statement (RPS) we are currently developing, which will set the environmental management direction for our region. 

After consultation online and at community meetings in October and November 2020, we are now developing draft freshwater visions for all FMUs and rohe around the region. To keep up to date on this project, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

See below summaries for background information on each FMU / Rohe:


Summary of freshwater vision consultation

ORC consulted communities around the region in October and November 2020 to help develop Freshwater Visions for each Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) in Otago. Developing community-driven freshwater visions is a requirement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and they must be included in our Regional Policy Statement.

The following report summarises community feedback collected at workshops around the region and through an online survey. It will be used to draft Freshwater Visions as part of a new Regional Policy Statement, due to be notified in June 2021.

Proposed RPS Hearings Commissioners – Call for Expressions of Interest

Freshwater Planning Process – Call for Expressions of Interest to be considered for nomination by ORC to sit, hear and decide on the proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement 2021. Read more


Regional Policy Statement Review (2015)

The RPS had its decisions notified on Saturday 1 October 2016. Most appeals on the document have now been resolved, though some provisions are still subject to legal processes. Accordingly, Council has resolved to make the document partially operative. This decision also revokes parts of the Regional Policy Statement for Otago 1998. 

View the Regional Policy Statement Review information >>

View the Partially Operative Otago Regional Policy Statement >>

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