Boards of Inquiry have been appointed to decide on two significant Auckland roading projects in a move which will get a decision by the end of the year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced today.
“These two major Auckland roading projects involve an investment of $2.2 billion and are best determined by the special Board of Inquiry process introduced to the Resource Management Act in National’s first phase of reforms. This will provide a robust process, a fair say for communities and a timely decision. The Boards we are appointing have the skills and experience to deliver the decisive leadership Auckland’s transport issues require,” Dr Smith says.
The $700 million Northern Corridor project will complete Auckland’s Western Ring Route. It will establish motorway interchange connections between SH1 and SH18, and capacity and safety improvements on SH1 from Constellation Drive to Oteha Valley Road and on SH18 between SH1 and the Albany Highway.
The Northern Corridor Improvements Proposal has been determined as a project of national significance by Dr Smith, as Minister for the Environment, on the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Dr Smith has appointed Environment Judge Melanie Harland (chair), resource management consultant Conway Stewart and civil engineer Nigel Mark-Brown to the Board of Inquiry to consider the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) application for six notices of requirement and 25 resource consents for the project.
The $1.5 billion East-West Link roading proposal involves the construction of a new four-lane arterial road between State Highway 20, the Neilson Street Interchange and State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington.
The East-West Proposal has been jointly determined as a project of national significance by Dr Smith and the Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry. The Minister of Conservation is involved because the project includes the reclamation of 18 hectares of the Mangere Inlet. The Ministers have appointed retired High Court Judge Hon Dr John Priestly QC (chair), environment management consultant Michael Parsonson, civil engineer Alan Bickers and independent hearings commissioner Sheena Tepania to consider NZTA’s application for two notices of requirement and 23 resource consents for the project.
“There is an additional sensitivity for development projects that impact on the coast and estuaries which must be carefully considered alongside the transport needs of a growing city. This Board is appropriately skilled to make a good decision on this significant and important project for Auckland,” Ms Barry says.
The two projects are part of the Government’s wider accelerated Transport Programme which is focused on congestion relief, supporting economic growth and improving safety. The Board of Inquiry process has been previously used on projects such as the Waterview Connection and the Puhoi to Wellsford highway upgrades.
“The decisions on these huge transport projects are critical to Auckland’s future. The Board of Inquiry process does ensure a timely decision but is not a guarantee as to the outcome. I strongly encourage Aucklanders to engage in this process to ensure we get a good decision and the detail right,” Dr Smith concluded.