The Vulture Has Landed!

The application has been lodged!

After a number of rumoured and promised deadlines have come and gone, NZTA has finally lodged their application with the Environmental Protection Agency.  There’s still a set of forms to be uploaded, outlining the actual consents being sought, and I’m not 100% sure that all the other reports have been put on their website either, but there’s plenty to get started with. If you have any expertise in any of the areas in the application, we’d love to hear from you. We have a few experts lined up on key topics, but it would be great to have some analytical backup. Email me at if you can help.

What happens next?

First it has to be analysed by the EPA so that they can check that all the boxes are ticked correctly. They have up to 20 working days to advise the Minister as to whether it should progress to the Environment Court or be sent back to the applicant for more work (unlikely, but has happened, I’m told). It can’t take more than 20 days, but it can be less. They will want to make sure their analysis is unimpeachable, but we were told by a source last year that Nick Smith was telling EPA staff to cancel holiday leave so they could turn it round in 5 days over Xmas. That was when the expected filing date was 23 December.

They also recommend whether it should go to the Court proper, or be “called in” to a Board of Inquiry. This is pretty much a foregone conclusion – the “call in” process was designed to facilitate “projects of national significance” (so now you know why these are called “roads of national significance”) and Joyce has indicated from the beginning that the government expects that this project would go to a Board of Inquiry.

The Minister then has an unspecified timeframe to make the decision to call it in – we expect sooner than later but all sorts of political things may influence that. When the decision is made, the application is formally notified under the RMA (technical legal term) and a Board is appointed. That is the point at which the great unwashed (i.e. you and me, folks) have 20 working days to create and send in submissions.

So, worst case for us might be 5 working days for the EPA process, 1 day for the Minister and then 20 working days to make our submission. Or it could be a couple of months, while they sort out Transmission Gully and a few other things. Christchurch is heating up and the politics around Sky City and other things might have a bearing on timing.

So let’s get ready to rumble!

We think the reason NZTA went for so much “consultation” in 2009/10/11 was to wear us all down so that we wouldn’t be bothered coming to the table at this time, the only time where your submission is part of a statutory function. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that very little in the NZTA proposals has been changed because of the “consultation process” we’ve been subjected to. But don’t give up!

There’s an art to writing a good submission and we’d like to show you how it’s done. The main aim is to address flaws in the application, not nut off about why you don’t want the distressway built here. The Board of Inquiry is looking at the evidence under the RMA criteria to determine whether NZTA has met the necessary standard. We know they haven’t – they can’t, with the design and route they’ve chosen – so we have to pick out the points of the application where they are minimizing risk and maximizing theoretical benefits (or telling complete whoppers, in our opinion) and highlight to the Board what the real issue is and why the application should be refused.

To help you get to grips with this process, we’ve set up a workshop on May 6 at El Rancho.

Speaker Sessions:
9:30am – Anna Carter (Environment)
10:30am – Nigel Wilson (GWRC)
11:30am – Marie O’Sullivan (Health Impacts)
12:30pm – K Gurunathan (KCDC)
1:30pm – David Roil (Geology/Water)
2:30pm – Bianca Begovich (SaveKapiti)

Session Format:
Topics covered include environmental, geological, water, economic,
health, noise, light, air quality, cultural and social impacts
Each speaker will talk for 20 minutes followed by 40mins for you to
write your submission using our template, information and assistance.
Choose one or more sessions to attend. The more sessions you
attend, the more information you will have to put in your submission.

See you there!

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