Submission by Te Kōkiringa Taumata | New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).

NZPI has made a submission on the Fast Track Approvals Bill today. While the submission supports the concept of a fast-track decision making process within a resource management system, the Institute believes this process should be better justified and have the right checks and balances in place.

Our submission calls out some fundamental issues with the process in the Bill and suggests ways to overcome these. The Bill circumvents democratic planning processes and puts an inordinate amount of decision-making power in the hands of a small number of Ministers. It also places emphasis on regional and national benefits without the requirement to consider if those benefits outweigh the environmental, social and cultural costs. With no reference to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, there is a risk that the momentum gained in recent years will be lost, and that contemporary Treaty claims may arise.

NZPI supports Ministerial decision-making for the referral stage of the process, but recommends expert panels are the final decision-makers on whether a project should go ahead or not. There will be more consistency and certainty over the long term if decision-making is non-political and expert led, and possibly less challenge.

We also recommend introducing sustainable management into the purpose of the Bill, to address the skewed assessment criteria, along with a Treaty principles clause. We believe that economic prosperity and environmental, social and culture wellbeing are not incompatible goals.

Read our full media release and find our submission below.