Fast track consenting in the fast lane

  • Hon Chris Bishop
  • Hon Shane Jones

The Government is progressing changes to resource management laws as part of its 100 Day Action Plan, with the first steps taken to establish a new fast-track consenting one-stop shop regime.

“This new regime, which forms part of National’s coalition agreement with New Zealand First, will improve the speed and process for resource approvals for major infrastructure projects, unlocking opportunities in industries such as aquaculture and mining in our regions,” Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says.

“For too long, New Zealanders have had to wait for progress in their towns and cities due to the overly-restrictive RMA. Today we have taken the first steps in cutting through this mess of red tape, so we can supercharge New Zealand’s infrastructure and economic potential,” RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop says.

“Consenting of major projects costs too much and takes too long – the Infrastructure Commission estimates that current consenting processes cost infrastructure projects a staggering $1.3 billion every year, and the time taken to get a resource consent for key projects has nearly doubled within a recent five-year period.

“This situation is stifling economic growth and improvements for the environment and the community.”

Cabinet has agreed that our new fast track consenting regime will consist of:

  • A new fast-track process contained in a standalone Act, with its own purpose statement focused on economic development;
  • A priority for regionally and nationally significant infrastructure and development projects;
  • A process for projects to be referred by Ministers into the fast-track process if it meets appropriate criteria;
  • A list of projects that will be first to have their consents approved and conditions set by an Expert Panel;
  • A process where referred projects will go to an Expert Panel which will apply any necessary conditions to ensure adverse effects of the project to the environment are managed appropriately, and where the panel will have only a limited ability to decline a project once referred.
  • A “one-stop-shop” where other relevant permits are obtained in addition to resource consents.

“New Zealand’s consenting regime is holding New Zealand back. Our fast-track proposals will lift New Zealand’s living standards, lift productivity, and grow our economy – all while still protecting our environment,” Chris Bishop says.

“We have let the RMA hamper progress for decades – today we say ‘no more’. It’s time to get New Zealand moving.

“The Government is committed to upholding Treaty of Waitangi settlements as part of the new fast-track regime.

“The full details of this Bill are being worked through by Minsters now, and the aim is to have the Bill introduced into Parliament by March 8 as part of our 100 Day Action Plan.

The Government repealed the Natural and Built Environment Act (NBA) and Spatial Planning Act (SPA) in December 2023.

Phase two of our RMA Reform agenda includes introducing this permanent one-stop-shop fast-track consenting regime, as well as progress on our Going for Housing Growth package, and other amendments to make it easier to get things done in New Zealand across aquaculture, farming, energy and other industries.

/Public Release. View in full here.