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Fast-tracked consent planned for cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga

Wellington.Scoop
Two Wellington projects are included in government plans announced today to fast-track resource consents for eleven infrastructure projects which will create new jobs. The two local projects are the long-awaited cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga, and upgrades to Wellington’s train services both for passengers and freight.

RNZ quotes Environment Minister David Parker as saying the new fast track process would see resource consents processed in 70 working days, instead of four to six months.

Today’s announcement says that between 120 and 130 new jobs will be created by the two fast-tracked projects in Wellington, which are:

Te Ara Tūpuna – a cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga in Wellington; between 30 and 40 jobs. This project will improve the safety and usability of an existing cycleway and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting, recreation and tourism. It is an opportunity to strengthen existing sea walls and structures to make it more resilient to sea level rise and increased storm events.

Wellington Metro Upgrade programme – suite of smaller projects aimed at increasing the passenger and freight capacity of trains between Masterton, Levin and Wellington. Works will involve upgrading drainage, new tracks, upgrading stations, new storage yards, and the establishment and operation of a gravel extraction site; 90 jobs.

Here is today’s announcement

News from NZ Government
The Government has today announced 11 infrastructure projects that will be fast-tracked under a new law to help rebuild the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The specific projects are listed in the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track) Bill that will be introduced In the House later this week. The Bill also opens the way for other projects to be fast tracked to help deliver faster economic growth and more jobs as soon as possible,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“Job rich infrastructure and development projects of different sizes and in different locations around New Zealand will be prioritised.

“Extraordinary times sometimes require extraordinary measures. However, positive environmental outcomes will not be sacrificed at the expense of speed. While these projects are being advanced in time, environmental safeguards remain. Part 2 of the Resource Management Act including the recognition of matters of national importance, will continue to apply.

“Furthermore, the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and Treaty Settlement obligations apply to all projects under this Bill.”

The new Bill allows for projects to proceed through a fast track consenting process down three pathways.

On the first track are the 11 Government-led projects specified in the legislation and assessed as suitable for the fast-track process. They range from roads to cycleways, rail upgrades, water storage, and housing developments and have the potential to provide an estimated 1250-plus jobs.

Once the Bill passes these projects will be referred directly to Expert Consenting Panels, which will set appropriate conditions on the projects before they can proceed.

Expert consenting panels will have similar powers to consenting authorities under the RMA.

The second track applies to applications from other public and private projects that will be considered by the Minister for the Environment before being forwarded to the panel.

“We are looking forward to ideas from a range of people and organisations including district and regional councils, iwi authorities, NGO’s and the private sector.” David Parker said.

Applicants must provide information to the Minister on how the project meets the criteria specified in the Bill. Projects that qualify will be referred to Panels for consideration through an Order in Council.

Notified applications for resource consents take on average around four to six months to process, depending on the complexity, significance and the level of contention involved. The new fast track processes are likely to take 45 to 70 working days.

Some transport projects will be able to start one to two years sooner under the fast track measure, depending on conditions set by the panel.

Thirdly there is an ability for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and KiwiRail Holdings Ltd to undertake repair, maintenance and minor upgrade works on existing infrastructure in the road and rail corridor as a permitted activity, which means it would not require a resource consent, but is subject to certain standards.

“Accelerating these projects will create opportunities for more employment and a boost to local economies,” David Parker said.

The fast track law is a short term intervention that will self-repeal in two years.

“The current comprehensive review of the RMA, which I expect to release before the election, will set out proposals for long term reform to fix the issues that have plagued the resource management system for many years.

“But until then, the RMA is still the main pathway for resource consenting for all other projects.”

10 comments:

  1. Patrick Morgan, 15. June 2020, 20:08

    I’ll be the first to celebrate when SkyPath and Te Ara Tupua (the Petone- Ngauranga path) open. These will be transformational. But hold the champagne – not if legitimate concerns are bypassed. Bad process leads to bad outcomes. Let’s hope NZTA has addressed any concerns from mana whenua. And let’s remember that without the checks and balances of the RMA, we’d have an awful Basin Reserve Flyover in the heart of Wellington.

     
  2. Russell Tregonning, 15. June 2020, 21:19

    Patrick — we gather from NZTA’s briefing to us at the Great Harbour Way Coalition that mana whenua have been involved in the negotiations and design. The plans look spectacular. This is the result of nearly 20 years of planning and promotion of the concept which we hope will encompass a 72km safe and continuous walking and cycling route around the whole perimeter of our beautiful harbour. It will appeal to all — visitors and locals, and not only walkers or cyclists.

     
  3. luke, 15. June 2020, 23:23

    Hurry up and build it. This project is long overdue.

     
  4. Andy Foster, 16. June 2020, 7:22

    Fantastic news on both rail upgrade and Petone – Ngauranga shared path (Te Ara Tupuna).
    As Luke says we’ve been wanting this built since the Great Harbour Way (Te Aranui o Poneke) vision when Celia Wade-Brown was Mayor, when we made it our # 2 regional transport priority.
    It will be transformational, just as New Plymouth’s coastal pathway is, and create a safe link between the Hutt and Wellington. It will also will improve the resilience of both rail and road links.
    It has always been the key missing link in the Great Harbour Way. NZTA intended to lodge consent about now.
    The accelerated RMA process is something to be wary of because it reduces public input, but in this case there is wide agreement, and moving faster will be fantastic. While the legislation reduces public input which is not a good thing, it doesn’t eliminate it, and nor does it override the RMA / Regional and District Plans – unlike the very nasty HASHA Act which did both.
    The potential concern with the legislation will be how widely it is used, and what safeguards there are.

     
  5. Marion Leader, 16. June 2020, 8:57

    Remind us what the HASHA Act is. [Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013.]

     
  6. jamie, 16. June 2020, 10:03

    Andy it looks like a non-complying consent under the regional plan, so will be interested to see how this is “fast Tracked.” It’s going to take at least 70 days to write the AEE. Hard to see how many of the jobs this creates will be filled by people who are non-skilled in construction and use of machines. but good luck to getting it happening.

     
  7. Mary Varnham, 16. June 2020, 10:11

    The Great Harbour Way Trust has had a preview of the design for this amazing project. Not only is the design spectacular but there has been wide and thorough consultation, including with iwi, and we are confident that all ecological concerns have also been addressed. Wellingtonians, rejoice at the addition of a fantastic new asset to our stunning city and beautiful harbour that will be enjoyed by people of all ages, walking or using all kinds of non-fossil-fuel-burning devices from bikes to scooters to wheelchairs.

     
  8. Keith Flinders, 16. June 2020, 13:19

    Ho hum, Wellington City bus users ignored again.
    Overcrowded Euro 3 diesel buses hurtling from one end of route 2 to the other to try and keep to an unrealistic timetable in rush hours. This whilst continually spewing particulate matter and noxious emissions, creating a sewer of pollution along the Golden Mile in particular.
    Been the same since July 2018. It’s not good enough that both central and local government are turning blind eyes to this health hazard.

     
  9. greenwelly, 16. June 2020, 13:29

    It is an opportunity to strengthen existing sea walls and structures to make it more resilient to sea level rise
    Is this managed retreat?

     
  10. Ben, 16. June 2020, 17:21

    Hopefully for Wellington, it seems the projects were already agreed on and are just fast tracked. [via twitter]