16 September, 2011
Transmission Gully passes significant milestone
Transport Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed a decision by the Minister for the Environment to direct matters lodged for the Transmission Gully to a Board of Inquiry.
He says the milestone is a great step forward for the project, and means it remains on track for a construction start in 2015/16.
“Transmission Gully is a crucial section of the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, which will give the whole lower North Island the vital transport link it needs to thrive economically.
“State Highway 1 in its current form is currently a significant constraint on economic productivity, and once built, Transmission Gully will provide a long-awaited piece of the puzzle that will make travelling in and out of Wellington easier, safer and more productive.
“This project has been on the cards for decades and has already seen years of preparation by the NZ Transport Agency and the former Transit, so getting to this stage is a huge achievement.
Mr Joyce says the Board of Inquiry process provides for a comprehensive assessment of all applications within a streamlined process. It has a set timeframe of nine months within which to consider the Notices of Requirement and Resource Consents, and produce a report on the matters, which provides for more certain decision-making time frames.
“The new regulatory consenting process overseen by the Board of Inquiry provides a real win-win in that it enables a major time reduction in deciding on applications but also still allows community voices to be heard.”
The lodging of applications with the EPA for the Transmission Gully project is the second such lodgement undertaken by the NZ Transport Agency for a major road of national significance project. The first was for the Waterview Connection project in Auckland which saw the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in July this year granting designation and resource consents to construct the Waterview Connection, with a final decision given 10 months after lodgement. Previously it could take up to five years to obtain consents and designation approvals.
The Board of Inquiry process allows for submitters supporting or opposing regulatory consent applications, such as those for the Transmission Gully project, to have their submissions heard and considered by the Board.
Mr Joyce says the Transmission Gully project will provide an alternative strategic road link into and out of Wellington, improving regional road network security, reducing travel times for motorists and improving the efficiency of freight movements. It will also be more secure in the event of a major earthquake or natural event, as well as being able to be more quickly reinstated.
The Wellington Northern Corridor is one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS), identified by the Government as vital to enabling economic growth in New Zealand by moving people and freight between and within major population centres more safely and efficiently.