Discharges of contaminants

Section 15(1)(c) of the RMA states:

No person may discharges any … (c) contaminant from any industrial or trade premises into air … unless the discharge is expressly allowed by a national environmental standard … a rule in a regional plan … or a resource consent.

This creates a presumption that resource consent is required for an industrial or trade discharge to air unless otherwise allowed.

In contrast, sections 15(2) and (2A) of the RMA provides that a contaminant cannot be discharged into air in a manner than contravenes a national environmental standard or regional rule unless expressly allowed by other regulations, a resource consent, or an existing use right.  This creates a presumption that other discharges to air are allowed, unless otherwise provided in a standard or rule.

Key Definitions


Includes any substances (including gases, odorous compounds, liquids, solids, and micro-organisms) or energy (excluding noise) or heat, that either by itself or in combination with the same, similar, or other substances, energy, or heat … when discharged … into air, changes or is likely to change the physical, chemical, or biological condition of the … air … into which it is discharged.


Includes emit, deposit, and allow to escape.

Industrial or trade premises 

(a) any premises used for any industrial or trade purposes (every part of a process from the receipt of raw material to the dispatch or use in another process or disposal of any product or waste material, and any intervening storage of the raw material, partly processed matter, or product), or 
(b) any premises used for the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of waste material or for other waste management purposes, or used for composting organic materials, or
(c) any other premises from which a contaminant is discharged in connection with any industrial or trade process but does not include any production land.

Last updated at 11:30AM on November 23, 2017