The Government has introduced a short-term consenting process to fast track projects that can boost employment and economic recovery.
The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (the Act) came into effect on 9 July
COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 [New Zealand Legislation website]
The Act is intended to:
- fast-track resource consenting and designation processes for eligible projects that are already planned and ready to go
- accelerate the beginning of work on a range of different sized and located projects
- support certainty of ongoing employment and investment across New Zealand
- continue to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
This supports the Government’s objectives for economic, environmental and social wellbeing. The new Act has a ‘sunset clause’ meaning it will be repealed two years from enactment.
- Diagram of how the Fast-track process works [PDF, 3.4 MB]
- Information for local authorities: Overview of fast-track consenting processes
- Information for iwi authorities: Overview of fast-track consenting processes
- Information for local authorities: Work on Infrastructure
- Information for applicants: Fast-track consenting guidance for applications to be referred under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track) Consenting Act 2020
Pathways to the Fast-track consenting process
The Act establishes three pathways for a project to access the fast-track consenting and notice of requirement process.
Projects listed in the Act
The first pathway applies to the projects listed in Schedule 2 of the Act. This means that applications can be made directly to the Environmental Protection Authority for consideration by the Expert Consenting Panels.
Projects confirmed through Orders in Council
The second pathway applies to all other public and private projects. Any person can apply to the Minister for the Environment for their project to be considered by an Expert Consenting Panel. If the Minister is satisfied the project meets the purpose of the Act and the eligibility criteria, the project will gain access to the fast-track process via an Order in Council recommended to the Governor General. If the application relates, at least in part, to the coastal marine area, the decision will be made jointly with the Minister for Conservation.
Permitted works on existing infrastructure
The third pathway enables Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and KiwiRail Holdings Limited to carry out small-scale repair, maintenance and minor upgrade works on their existing infrastructure within the road and rail corridor without a resource consent (as a permitted activity).
The Act also enables government agencies Kāinga Ora and the Ministry for Housing and Urban Development, and local government to access these provisions if confirmed through an Order in Council.
Implications for the Resource Management System
The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) will remain the primary legislation to manage the built and natural environment.
The fast-track consenting legislation does not amend the RMA itself. It only provides an alternative consenting pathway.
Environmental management safeguards are built into the legislation.
The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track consenting) Act is a necessary response to the social and economic effects of COVID-19 and is a short-term intervention to support recovery. It will not resolve the fundamental issues in our resource management system. The report on the comprehensive review of the resource management system was delivered to the Minister in late June 2020. Until the reform of the resource management system is in place, the RMA is still the main pathway for resource consenting for all other projects.
- The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill was introduced into the House and passed its first reading on 16 June 2020. You can listen to Minister Parker’s speech on the Parliament On Demand website.
- The Bill was referred to the Environment Select Committee, which reported on the Bill on 29 June 2020. You can read the report on the Parliament website.
- The Bill passed its second and third readings on 2 July 2020. You can listen to Minister Parker’s speech [Whakaata Pāremata Parliament On Demand website].
- The Act came into effect on 9 July 2020 after receiving Royal Assent.
- You can read the Act on the New Zealand legislation website.
Find out more
- Cabinet paper: Supporting implementation of the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (September 2020)
- COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Cabinet paper (April 2020)
- Fast track consenting bill departmental disclosure statement [PDF, 492 KB]
- Minister's media release 3 May 2020: Fast-track consenting to get shovel-ready projects moving [Beehive website]
- Minister’s media release 15 June 2020: Streamlined consents to boost jobs and economic recovery [Beehive website]
- Minister's media release 2 July: 2020: Fast-track consenting law boosts jobs and economic recovery [Beehive website]
- Minister's media release 7 July 2020: Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed [Beehive website].