The law to boost the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand by speeding-up resource consenting on selected projects recently passed its second and third readings.
Commenting on the progress through the House, Environment Minister David Parker said: “Accelerating nationwide projects and activities by government, iwi and the private sector will help deliver faster economic recovery and more jobs, while addressing New Zealand’s infrastructure deficit.”
The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill supports and accelerates the Government’s investment in infrastructure, environment and development projects while maintaining environmental and Treaty safeguards. This includes supporting the transition to a low-emissions economy and improving resilience to climate change and natural hazards while supporting sustainable management.
Part 2 of the Resource Management Act, including the recognition of matters of national importance, will continue to apply and reference to it was strengthened.
Twelve projects will go directly to Expert Consenting Panels for decisions and to set any conditions. These listed projects will create an estimated 1700 jobs and this is just the start.
A second pathway under the Bill allows other public and private projects to access the fast-track consenting process by making an application for the Environment Minister to refer them to an Expert Consenting Panel. Each Panel will be chaired by a sitting or retired Environment Court Judge, or senior RMA lawyer, and will have a minimum of three commissioners and include nominees from relevant local authorities and local iwi authorities.
Application and guidance material is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.