Release: Environment ministry advice show flaws in Fast Track Approvals Bill

Environment ministry (MfE) officials have outlined many ways in which the Fast Track Approvals Bill is deeply flawed, Labour environment spokesperson Rachel Brooking says.

“The Coalition Government is trying to push through legislation that works against the environment, not with it; that puts power in the hands of three Ministers to make decisions they are not qualified to make, and will ultimately take New Zealand backwards.”

MfE's Supplementary Analysis Report on the Fast-track Approvals Bill looks at how the bill has been designed and judged that the purpose of the legislation – to drive through projects no matter the environmental impact – is flawed.

The report says that sustainable management should be considered and legislation protecting our environment should not be overridden.

“This is just for starters. The advice also says that Ministers should not make final decisions to approve projects. Instead, an independent panel should make the decisions, much like Labour’s Fast Track Covid-19 consenting legislation that saw houses, energy and infrastructure consented and built,” says Rachel Brooking.

The report says that only expert panels can ensure that any adverse effects of a project, such as a mine or road, are taken into account and managed. Setting these conditions requires “expert knowledge which does not reside with Ministers or officials, which expert panels are best placed to provide.”

“The Coalition Government is making a choice to prioritise short term, potentially environmentally damaging projects like coal mines, without any input from the communities they will affect long term.

“This is about choices – the Government can listen to the thousands of submissions that are overwhelmingly against this bill, and the advice of MfE, or it can continue to push through a dodgy piece of legislation that will have impacts on communities and nature for generations to come.”

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