25 Oct 2008

Roading too high a priority under National, say Greens

11:54 am on 25 October 2008

The Green Party says Resource Management consents for small businesses and households would be put on the back-burner under a National government which it says would focus on building roads.

If elected the National Party plans to overhaul the Resource Management Act within its first 100 days in Government.

It would establish an Environmental Protection Agency to oversee priority consent for projects of national importance.

The projects, which would include a new category of essential state highways called 'Roads of National Significance' would be approved within nine months.

Environment spokesperson Nick Smith says the new agency would have to take into account district and regional plans and national policy, and there would be a process of public submissions.

National says under the current resource management process it takes longer for roads to gain consent than it does to build them.

The Green Party opposes giving roads priority consenting.

Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says New Zealand does not need big new roads at a time when traffic volumes are falling because of rising oil prices.

She says if motorways are given priority they will hold up all other resource consents in favour of unnecessary roads.

But National maintains some infrastructure projects are of such importance to the economy that they deserve priority treatment.