The first project approved by a panel under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act is a 24-metre high earth dam on the Kopenui Stream in Northland. This project involves the construction of water storage and distribution infrastructure in Kaikohe to support the development of Northland’s agriculture and horticulture sector, and to provide drinking water for Kaikohe. The project will destroy over 1 ha of wetlands and several high-value terrestrial ecosystems including podocarp-broadleaf forest, swamp forest and raupō wetland, resulting in a total indigenous vegetation loss of 3.55 ha, according to the panel.
The act prohibits public or even limited notification of a consent application or notice of requirement. A panel established to evaluate a project must invite written comments from some people or limited list of groups identified in the act. For projects referred by an Order in Council (rather than those listed in the act) additional people or groups may be invited to provide comments, as set out in the Referral Order recommended by the Minister for the Environment.
The Fast Track Consenting Projects list so far can be found here and information on the panels is here.
Generation Zero Inc, one of the organisations that has to be consulted in the act, had offered comments on behalf of Choose Clean Water – but these were rejected by the panel, which said that it “cannot give consideration to comments received from a party that has inappropriately inserted itself into the process and we have therefore had to disregard the comments.” The Environment Defence Society (EDS), another party that is required to be consulted, asked to be able to comment on the draft decision but the panel said that was not permitted.
Auckland projects that may be considered by expert consenting panels include the following:
- Dominion Road mixed use commercial and residential development in Auckland which includes a two to six-storey building to accommodate a supermarket, retail and office and commercial businesses and about 117 dwellings and associated carparking.
- Ryman Healthcare’s Kohimarama Comprehensive Care Retirement Village providing for 123 independent apartments, 173 hospital care beds and specialist facilities.
There is a public meeting about the proposed Ryman Retirement Village on Monday 30 November from 7:30pm at the Selwyn College Theatre, Kohimarama Rd.
This post has been adapted from an article in Tieke – the weekly e-bulletin of the ECO community
CTA’s submission on the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act is here.
Image: Ryman Healthcare