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Select Committee Report Fails To Address Climate Groups’ Substantial Concerns With Fast Track Bill

Climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa is disappointed that the Environment Select Committee has failed to address substantial concerns with the Covid-19 Response (Fast Track Consenting) Bill in its report released today. The Bill currently removes the public’s right to have a say on fast-tracked projects and fails to create climate and environmental bottom lines as criteria for fast-tracking.

350 Aotearoa Campaigner Siri Andersen said “The next decade will be essential in rapidly transforming Aotearoa to reduce our emissions and transition towards a low-carbon future. It is vital that any infrastructure spending considers climate impact as a bottom line for eligibility to ensure that the choices we make today set us on course towards a more just and sustainable future.” 

In mid-June, the Fast Track Bill passed its first reading in Parliament and the Environment Select Committee announced a short period for public consultation.

“The Select Committee process has been a disappointment from the start. New Zealanders were given only five days to make written submissions and only three two days were set aside for oral submissions on a Bill that will seriously change the way that major infrastructure projects can be approved for two years,” noted Andersen

350 Aotearoa, together with their colleagues at Coal Action Network Aotearoa and Oil Change International, released a submission guide to assist those concerned with the legislation to submit to the Select Committee.

“Despite the tight timelines, over 100 people used our submission guide to tell the Select Committee that they had serious issues with the Fast Track Bill,” said Andersen. “Yet not one of our concerns with the legislation has been meaningfully addressed in the Select Committee report - not the failure to meaningfully consider climate impacts, nor the limiting of appeal rights or the lack of oversight the public will have over how decisions are made for big infrastructure works.”

“People are right to be concerned that this piece of legislation is being rushed through Parliament without careful consideration of the potential risk to our climate and environment, let alone the risk to our democracy posed by limiting public consultation and rights to appeal approvals,” said Andersen.

The Environment Select Committee report, released today, recommends a number of minor amendments to the Fast Track Bill, including adding greenhouse gas emissions to the range of considerations the Minister for the Environment may but is not required to take into consideration when assessing fast-track applications. 350 Aotearoa notes that serious concerns raised through the submissions process about public participation and consultation, environmental and climate impacts and rights to appeal approvals have not been addressed by the Select Committee.

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