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'Fast track bill for infrastructure approved but water strategy urgently needed'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

IrrigationNZ is pleased to see that the Government’s bill for a short-term consenting process to fast-track projects passed in the House last night.

"For far too long we have seen valuable projects fall over because of the long and laborious RMA process, in a post-COVID context we can no longer afford these delays to progress," says Elizabeth Soal, IrrigationNZ CEO.

"But for our sector, this is not enough."

"We remain concerned with the capability and capacity for communities to develop meaningful water infrastructure solutions, even if the consenting process is more efficient, without some national level guidance."

"And while we support the significant sums the Government has put toward infrastructure through the $3bn COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, the $12bn Infrastructure Upgrade Programme as well as the Provincial Growth Fund - we strongly believe that for water infrastructure to have maximum benefits there needs to be a strategy which guides its development and how it intersects with funding and consenting mechanisms such as these."

"The alternative is that we have piecemeal allocation of funding, piecemeal development and we miss the opportunity to strategically future proof our communities and ensure our nation’s resilience in the face of climate change."

"Well-planned water infrastructure projects are the foundation for economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing," says Ms Soal. "And we are supportive of the decision to include a Northland water storage project in those selected for the fast-track process and encourage other water storage projects which have multi-benefits for their surrounding communities to apply," says Ms Soal.

Under the fast-track process, Environment Minister David Parker will receive applications to refer projects to a panel. Anyone with an eligible project can apply here [add link].

The proposed legislation would not amend the RMA itself. It would only provide an alternative consenting pathway.

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.

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