Fast-track consenting legislation and changes to application of Te Mana o te Wai

Ministry for the Environment asked for input and feedback to inform the Government’s policy to develop fast-track consenting (FTC) legislation and to changes to how the hierarchy of obligations contained in Te Mana o te Wai is applied to consent applications and consent decisions under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM). Our high-level comments are:

The exorbitantly long time for obtaining consents increases risk to water infrastructure providers. It often leads to increases project costs, delays contracts being awarded to contractors and procurement of materials with long lead times and acts as a barrier to three water services delivery addressing aging assets and investment in higher levels of service. Further, these delays can mean the environment, and often the water environment, remain in a degraded state for longer.

While implementing fast track consenting could result in cost and time efficiency improvements for consent applications and approvals. It is vital that the “limited ability to decline” does not lead to unintended consequences and outcomes which see a worsening of the environment.

At this point in the reform process, it is not clear what the intention is or what the practical effect will be of ‘rebalancing’ or removing the hierarchy of obligations of Te Mana o te Wai. Without addressing or holistically understanding the water environment during the consent process there is a real risk that the effect of granting a consent will be a further degradation, with associated negative wellbeing impacts.

MfE Fast Track Consent feedback.pdf

191 KB
12 Feb 2024