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Submission on the Fast-track Approvals Bill

19 April 2024

Transmission Gully. Mark Tantrum, NZTA.

The Commissioner has made a submission on the Fast-track Approvals Bill.

He recognises that there is widespread frustration with the time it takes to get major projects underway and that there is a need to improve both the cost and speed of consenting. However, he questions whether the Bill, as drafted, is the best way to achieve that.

He considers the proposed legislation poses significant environmental risks because, amongst other things, it deprioritises the environment and the role of the Minister for the Environment, applies to too broad a range of activities (including ones that are currently prohibited or have previously been declined) and limits opportunities for environmental scrutiny.

Furthermore, the Bill is likely to achieve sub-optimal outcomes through poor decision making, poor allocation of resources, a lack of legislative durability and increased litigation risk.

He recommends, that if the Bill is to proceed, the following changes be made:

  1. Remove the role of Ministers as final decision-makers.
  2. Limit eligible projects to those that provide significant public benefits.
  3. Elevate environmental considerations, including into the purpose clause, and restore the role of the Minister for the Environment.
  4. Exclude previously declined or prohibited activities from the fast-track process.
  5. Lengthen the proposed timelines for the consenting process.
  6. If they remain decision makers, require Ministers to explain any deviation from a panel’s recommendations.
  7. Require decision makers to make an explicit statement about the level of uncertainty that applies to any information relevant to environmental risk, and to undertake rigorous cost/benefit analysis of all referred projects.
  8. Expand the range of parties who are entitled to have their views listened to by the panels.
  • Resources

    PCE submission on Fast track Approvals Bill April 2024
    Presentation to the Environment Select Committee on Fast-track Approvals Bill