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EDS releases draft submission on the ‘alarming’ Fast Track Approvals Bill

EDS has today released a first draft of its submission on the Fast Track Approvals Bill. The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 7 March and has been referred to the Environment Select Committee. Submissions to the Select Committee close 19 April.

The Bill allows Ministers to override controls under important environmental laws, including the Resource Management Act 1991 and Conservation Act 1987. It is deeply disturbing from an environmental and constitutional perspective, and is the worst piece of law proposed since Muldoon’s controversial National Development Act 1979.

“We are releasing our draft submission early to raise awareness of just how bad this Bill is and to help other submitters with their own submissions,” said EDS Reform Director, Dr Greg Severinsen.

“The Bill gives inordinate power to development Ministers to make final decisions on resource consents, conservation concessions, exclusive economic zone consents, conservation land exchanges, wildlife permits and many other approvals. Independent panels are reduced to an advisory role.

“The development purpose of the Bill trumps sustainable management. National direction on freshwater management, the protection of indigenous biodiversity and the coastal environment, and RMA plans, are rendered largely irrelevant.

“Almost all projects are eligible for the fast-track approvals process, including the most damaging activities that are prohibited under the RMA. Projects need only to be of regional or national benefit, an amorphous constraint which is completely open to Ministerial interpretation. Approximately 100 as yet unnamed projects will be specifically listed in a schedule to the Bill and will likely sail right through.

“The process entirely excludes the public and environmental advocates. This means that the public will not be given an opportunity to comment on life-changing developments occurring in their communities. The role of the Courts is curtailed. Decision-making Ministers are those for Transport, Regional Development and Infrastructure. Quite astonishingly, the Minister for the Environment is completely excluded.

“These are just some of the issues with the Bill. It neuters almost all environmental protections in our legal toolkit. It is nothing like previous fast track consenting processes. And because it will largely cut out public involvement, the Select Committee process is the only opportunity people will get to have a say.

“This Bill has monumental implications for everyone. It could result in large-scale infrastructure and development being built right next door, with no ability to comment and no recourse to challenge. It is critical that people tell lawmakers what they think of it,” concluded Dr Severinsen.

More:

Greg Severinsen 021 585 951 greg@eds.org.nz

Gary Taylor 021 895 896 gary@eds.org.nz

Read Draft Submission https://eds.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Draft-FT-Submission.pdf

EDS is hosting a free public webinar on the Bill and its draft submission. We will also be producing a template submission following the webinar, which people can use for their own submissions.

Date: Thursday 21 March 2024

Time: 12.30pm – 1.15pm

Location: online via zoom webinar

Cost: there is no cost to attend but prior registration is essential

Register for Webinar https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7nLsEgqGTkyg0rHaUJ8Z4A#/registration

Donate to EDS https://eds.org.nz/get-involved/donate/

 

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