Fast Track Approval Bill set to go ahead

Controversial Fast Track Approval Bill Raises Environmental Concerns in New Zealand

In a move that has stirred both industrial circles and environmental groups, the New Zealand government has introduced the Fast Track Approval Bill, spearheaded by National Party’s Chris Bishop. The bill grants unprecedented authority to three government ministers—Shane Jones, Chris Bishop, and Simeon Brown—to approve industrial projects without public consultation or scrutiny.

Critics argue that this legislation could lead to unchecked industrial development in ecologically sensitive areas, such as Karangahake Gorge and Fiordland National Park, potentially jeopardizing the country’s tourism revenue and natural beauty. The bill allows the appointment of an expert panel, which, according to some, could be composed of industry insiders like Rio Tinto executives, raising concerns over potential conflicts of interest.

The public outcry stems from the lack of avenues for feedback on projects greenlit by the ministers, effectively silencing the voice of the New Zealand public. This legislation circumvents several foundational environmental protection laws, including the Resource Management Act, Conservation Act, Wildlife Act, Reserves Act, and the EEZ Act, and renders the Environmental Protection Authority’s role moot.

Supporters of the bill tout its ability to streamline industrial development and reduce bureaucratic red tape. However, opponents see it as a gateway for developers and mining companies to exploit the nation’s conservation estate, likening it to the controversial Think Big projects of the 1970s.

With the deadline for submissions against the bill looming on April 19th, the Environmental Defence Society has released a submission template to facilitate public opposition. The debate continues as many New Zealanders express discomfort with entrusting such sweeping powers to a select few ministers, fearing the irreversible impact on the country’s cherished national parks and conservation efforts.

Submissions to contest this bill end on Friday the 19th April The environmental defence society have released a submission template that you can submit to contest this legislation.

Click here for fast track submission template