“The Government’s supposedly fast-track consenting process is proving to be anything but, with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) a clear hindrance to progress rather than a facilitator,” says ACT Environment spokesperson Simon Court.
“What a nonsense of a process to have 17 development applications placed in front of the EPA as appropriate for fast-track approval since the enabling legislation came into force in July last year but only three having received the go-ahead.
“Let’s be clear, these projects have met the eligibility criteria to be referred to the EPA by the Minister for the Environment.
“Their job is then meant to be simple and quick – that’s literally the definition of fast-track.
“Instead, perversely the EPA seems to have set up the sort of barriers to progress the local council consenters it’s supposed to be overriding have been famous for.
“In a cycle of absurdity Kafka would be proud of, the EPA told the Environment Select Committee today the hold-up is somehow the applicants’ fault. This process was meant to be easier for developers of much-needed housing and infrastructure, not harder.
“The shambles is proving to be an embarrassing stop-gap measure for the Government on the way to real RMA reform, which as ACT pointed out yesterday won’t result in anything like its intended outcome in its present shape.
“Only first principles reform of the RMA that recognises private property rights and considerably limits involvement of third parties like the EPA will speed up New Zealand’s development.”