The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (the Act) creates a fast-track process to fast-track projects aimed at stimulating the economy.

The fast-track consent process

You can make a resource consent application or lodge a notice of requirement for listed or referred projects under the Act.

Expert consenting panels make decisions on both the resource consent applications and notice of requirements, and set conditions on the projects before they can go ahead. 

The Environmental Protection Authority provides advice and administrative support for the panel convener and expert consenting panels, which are appointed by the convener.

The legislation

The legislation enabling fast-track consenting came into effect on 9 July 2020. It includes a 'sunset clause' which will see the legislation repealed on 8 July 2022. If an application is received prior to 8 July 2022, the provisions of the Act continue to apply for that application until the application process is completed. 

The Act will be repealed on 8 July 2022, although any application that has been commenced will continue to be determined under the Act.

More information about the fast-track consenting process - Ministry for the Environment website

Project types

There are three types of projects that fall under the Act, and each follow a different process:

Listed projects

These are projects that are listed in the Act. Applicants can lodge resource consent applications or notices of requirement directly with the EPA.

Fast-track listed projects

Referred projects

These projects must meet eligibility criteria and be referred by the Minister for the Environment, through an Order in Council. Once approved, applicants can lodge applications or notices or requirement with the EPA.

Applying for the Fast-track consenting process through Order in Council - Ministry for the Environment website

Fast-track referred projects

Work on infrastructure by approved organisations

Some work on infrastructure by approved organisations, such as the NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail can be carried out as permitted activities (they don’t require resource consents) if conditions in the Act are met.

Expert consenting panels

The panels have similar powers to consenting authorities, like councils, under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Each panel will have a minimum of three members. The Panel Convenor, Alternate Environment Court Judge L J Newhook, will appoint the panel. Each panel will be chaired by a sitting or retired Environment Court Judge, or senior RMA lawyer. The local authority and local iwi authority may each nominate a person to be a member of the panel.

Find out more about the panel convenor and expert consenting panels

Commenting on a fast-track consenting application

The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (the Act) creates a new process to
fast-track projects aimed at stimulating the economy. 

The Act states that expert consenting panels must not give public or limited notification about a consent application or notice of requirement. However, panels must invite written comments from some people or groups listed in the Act. For projects referred by an Order in Council (rather than listed in the Act) there may also be additional people invited to provide comments, as set out in the Referral Order.

Read more about commenting on a fast-track consenting application

The EPA's role

Some of our key roles in the fast-track consenting process include:

  • supporting the panel convenor
  • assessing whether applications and notices of requirement contain the information required by the Act
  • receiving comments on projects from specified parties
  • support for hearing processes if a hearing takes place
  • supporting panels from when they are appointed through to the issuing of a decision
  • making administrative decisions incidental to the conduct of the panel
  • recovering costs from applicants.

Process timeline

This flowchart shows the fast-track consenting process timeline. 

Fast-track Consenting process timeline

Text description of fast-track consenting process timeline