Communities “Losers” In New Changes
The Government’s proposed changes to the Land Transport Management Act announced today will take decision making away from communities and give it to faceless motorway building officials, according to the Green Party .
Green Party transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes said the changes were entirely predictable from a transport minister who consulted primarily with the Automobile Association and Road Transport Forum.
“These law changes are about giving more power to central government motorway builders, and they will come at the expense of communities and our economy.”
Cabinet approved the changes to transport planning legislation – with the transport minister saying it’s part of ongoing efforts to cut unnecessary red tape and get New Zealand moving.
Steven Joyce says amendments to the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA) will make the transport planning process simpler, more streamlined and less prescriptive.
“The current legislation is far too complicated. It has resulted in confusing and convoluted decision making, ambiguity between planning documents, and onerous consultation processes.
“When passed, the updated legislation will promote a better alignment between central and local government roles in the transport sector. Local government will have more flexibility around its transport planning and fewer processes and procedures to manage.”
Changes in the Bill will include:
- Almost halving the number of transport committee members around the country from 228 to 118.
- Halving the number of formal transport plans or strategies required around the country from 35 to 18.
- Removing barriers to the use of the tolling and public private partnership provisions in the LTMA.
- Implement a previous Cabinet decision to halt the introduction of regional fuel taxes, which would have added further costs to road users and been an expensive and inefficient means of gathering revenue.
The legislation will greatly simplify the number of tests and criteria used to assess transport projects.
“These changes will reduce regulation and compliance while delivering similar outcomes. This will allow Councils to save money, and release more funding to be spent on actual transport solutions.”
Amending legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament within the next six to nine months.
Green’s Gareth Hughes says the Government wants to exclude important diverse views from regional land transport committees, and ignore considerations about environmental sustainability, public health and disability.
“This will result in more of the siloed thinking that has resulted in the complex problems our transport system faces today.
“It is crazy to think we could get a thriving economy, with livable towns and cities, from traffic engineers who do not understand the impact of their projects on urban development.
“We need a smart green transport system to meet the challenges of the 21stcentury, and regional and community input is essential to find the solutions that will work for everyone.”
Mr Hughes said he was extremely concerned about provisions for increased borrowing to fund transport projects.
“The fact that the Government needs to borrow to pay for their motorway plans is evidence that the projects are not cost-effective transport solutions.
“Traffic volumes on state highways are declining in light of high oil prices, and still the Government wants to spend all the money on new motorways, so they need to borrow money. ”We can’t increase economic productivity by borrowing to build motorways when the international oil price is expected to stay high.
“We need to invest in a transport system that doesn’t increase our vulnerability to high oil prices. That’s smart economics.”
NZTA site on the changes