21 May 2024

Fast-track Approvals Bill: Submissions

From The House , 7:00 pm on 21 May 2024

Parliament’s Environment Committee has been hearing submissions on the Fast-Track Approvals Bill over the last three weeks. The oral submissions are a balloted selection from the many seeking to appear, and from the tens of thousands of written submissions received.  

Some are very specific, some very broad. They are typically well researched, thoughtful and have ranged across the dozens of angles a submitter might take on such powerful and wide-ranging legislation.

While many submissions oppose the Bill, or aspects of it; some support the Bill's intent but would take it further, enabling wider or different changes to planning and consenting law, for example at the local government level.

Ella Flavell and Will Ferris from Climate Clinic give evidence in Select Committee.

Ella Flavell and Will Ferris from Climate Clinic give evidence in Select Committee. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

A brief outline of the Bill

The Fast-Track Approvals Bill describes itself as providing a “streamlined decision-making process to facilitate the delivery of infrastructure and development projects with significant regional or national benefits”.

The fast track intent would be achieved via an alternative path to the various consenting processes that might be required under a range of laws regarding fisheries, wildlife, heritage, conservation, crown minerals and the RMA itself. 

The alternative approvals process is truncated, those involved are fewer. 

A core group of three ministers (sometimes with additions according to the project), will refer potential projects to a small expert panel to consider. The panel can consult a range of stakeholders but not the general public. 

After the panel makes recommendations, final decisions on projects are made by the same ministerial group.

Legal appeals about decisions are restricted to points of law, restricted regarding who has standing to sue, and to whom they can appeal. 

Every aspect of the process includes tight time limits (for example a ten day allowance for getting advice to the expert panel).

There is, of course, a lot more complexity, but that is the basic framework. Listen to the audio story for examples of submissions on the Bill.

The Environment committee is due to report back to the House on the Fast Track Approvals Bill in early September.

Links for the bill

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