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Environment Select Committee reports back on COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill

Home Insights Environment Select Committee reports back on COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill

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Contributed by: Allison Arthur-Young, Daniel Minhinnick, Jacob Burton and Jessica Hayman

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Published on: July 01, 2020

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Following on from our update in June on the introduction of the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill, the Environment Select Committee has released its report. The Bill is expected to be heard under urgency and come into force next week.

During a rapid consultation process, the Committee received and considered 946 submissions. Some of the key recommendations from its report are set out below. 

Listed and referred projects

  • Queenstown Arterials Project (by Queenstown Lakes District Council and NZTA) has been added as a listed project for fast-tracking to the expert consenting panel.

  • Enabling works by Transpower have been added for three of the currently listed projects, being the Northern Pathway, the Papakura to Pukekōhe Rail Electrification, and the Papakura to Drury South State Highway 1 Improvements.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions have been included as a significant adverse effect that the Minister can consider as part of the referral process.

  • Other Ministers invited for comment as part of the referral process must now also comply with the same 10 working day timeframe for providing comments as other parties.

  • Applications for referral must set out whether the project is planned to proceed in stages, as well as provide a description of any legal interest in the project land.

  • Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and any affected requiring authority have been added to the list of organisations that must be invited to comment on listed and referred projects.

  • The Climate Change Commission has been removed as an organisation that must be invited to comment on referred projects (on the understanding that it did not support this inclusion and was not resourced for the role).

  • The organisations and advocacy groups that were already proposed to be invited to comment on referred projects will now also be invited to comment on listed projects including Business NZ, Greenpeace and Infrastructure NZ.

Relationship of the Bill with the RMA and Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi)

The Select Committee recommended clarification of the relationship between the Bill and the RMA, and how Te Tiriti principles are to be considered under the Bill. In particular:

  • amendments to require decisions to "take into account" rather than "act in a way consistent with" the principles of Te Tiriti;

  • clarification that the expert consenting panel's consideration of consent applications for listed and referred projects is subject to both Part 2 of the RMA and the purpose of the Bill equally;

  • amendments to prevent the expert consenting panel imposing conditions more restrictive than those that could be imposed under the RMA, for example, for project activities that would be controlled or restricted discretionary activities under the relevant plan; and

  • amendments to align maximum consent durations under the Bill with those under the RMA.

 
Please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to discuss the implications of the Bill for your business.

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