Consultation underway on major changes to infrastructure planning and delivery

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The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, is proposing an overhaul of the way New Zealand’s infrastructure is planned, prioritised and built, in a recently released consultation document.

Te Waihanga chief executive Ross Copland says the document, He Tuapapa ki te Ora, Infrastructure for a Better Future, sets a proposed direction for a 30-year infrastructure strategy, which is being developed.

“New Zealand is facing some huge challenges. As our cities age, many of the infrastructure networks that support them are nearing end of life, often at the same time,” Copland says.

“Add to that the need to redesign our fossil-fuelled energy system, improve water quality, relieve our congested towns and cities, and build the new houses we need for a growing population, there is a lot to do. This is going to require bold, decisive action, starting now.

“New Zealand is world leading in so many ways but our infrastructure is holding us back. We have been speaking to infrastructure providers, central and local government, business leaders and communities about the issues and opportunities they experience, and what they suggest needs to change in order to provide world-class infrastructure here in Aotearoa.”

Infrastructure for a Better Future also draws on research and the priorities people shared through the Aotearoa 2050 engagement campaign, and sets out options for how better infrastructure can enhance the well-being of New Zealanders.

Copland is appealing to New Zealanders to have their say. “This is an amazing opportunity for New Zealanders to tell Te Waihanga, the Infrastructure Commission, what you want to see in your 30-year strategy.”

The consultation document sets out goals for a New Zealand with a productive, carbon-neutral economy, affordable homes, reliable travel, and safe and healthy communities.

Infrastructure decisions would be guided by the Treaty of Waitangi and in partnership with Maori.

Specific proposals include:

Rigorous and transparent cost-benefit analyses on all major public infrastructure projects to ensure value for money.

A more responsive planning system to meet housing needs, by accelerating and enhancing the National Policy Statement on Urban Development, national standardisation of planning rule books, and a consistent process to speed up rezoning for residential density.

A major projects leadership academy to raise capability in government and industry.

Better pricing of existing and new infrastructure services, including for urban development, water and transport, and to support the transition to Net Zero Carbon 2050.

Congestion charging in Auckland to improve urban accessibility, and beginning to plan for congestion charging in cities other than Auckland.

Empower cities to approve congestion charging by removing legislative barriers.

Reviewing local government’s role in infrastructure, including local authority boundaries.

Greater use of open data in infrastructure, to enable the development of “digital twins” in public sector infrastructure, and the use of artificial intelligence for activities such as consenting.

The potential for an Asset Management Team to take on infrastructure responsibilities from government agencies that are not well equipped.

Investigating the potential for offshore renewable power generation.

The 30-year strategy must be provided to the Minister for Infrastructure, and will be tabled in the House by April 2022.

Public consultation runs from May 12 to June 24 2021. Submissions can be made through the Te Waihanga web site at www.infrastructure.govt.nz/have-your-say.

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