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Minister Should Use Call-in Powers for RIng Route

Minister Should Use “Call in” Powers to Speedup Approvals for Western Ring Route

Media release, 10 August 2005

Faster progress to complete the Auckland’s much needed Western Ring Route could be achieved if Government used its power to “call in” the project under the Resource Management Act to speed up approvals.

While Transit 10 year State Highway Forecast Update released today promises faster progress than before, completion of the western corridor will not be achieved until 2015/16 under the new plan, and that date is dependent upon strong regional alignment and the public’s acceptance of tolls.

Economic analysis by Australian consultants carried out last year demonstrated that every year of delay in completion of this project will cost the New Zealand economy in excess of $800 million in lost GDP.[1]

The primary delays are caused by RMA processes and funding constraints on the additional Manukau Harbour crossing and Avondale projects.

Each individual project can be expected to be challenged through the RMA LTMA approval processes which in large part accounts for the extended project completion time lines that Transit has anticipated.

But there is provision under the RMA for projects of national importance to be “called in” which enables the consenting process to be fast tracked.

It would be far more efficient to consolidate the projects into one strategic corridor, and have the approval process streamlined by use of the Ministerial call-in procedure.

This is consistent with the kind of approach adopted in Australia which has made much faster progress on finishing its strategic corridor network in the last decade.

The most obvious example is the $1.5 billion 40 kilometre Western Sydney Orbital (now known as Westlink M7), which went to consultation on environmental impacts in 2001 and is scheduled to open to traffic next year, an approval to completion timeframe of just five years.

The development of a corridor approach for Auckland’s western ring route would be more consistent with the stated intent of the Land Transport Management Act which requires land transport projects to be developed in an integrated manner.

ENDS


[1] The Benefits in Investing in NZ’s Roading Infrastructure, Allen Consulting August 2004.

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