The Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance (RoNS) is now being fast-tracked following agreement from the Auckland Council with Government on consenting processes.
The Government have been working with the Auckland Council Regional Development Operations Committee who were asked to make a judgment in relation to the consent process for the extension, voting 16-4 to effectively fast-track the project through a Government-appointed board, rather than dealing with it locally under a process open to Environment Court challenges which could cause significant delays.
“This is stunning news for the people of Northland who know the importance of this vital trade and economic link to Auckland, the country’s largest economic hub,” says Northland MP Mike Sabin. “The project should now be construction-ready by 2014.”
“I was gratified by the overwhelming support for the project by the Auckland Council, some of whom noted that, far from being a ‘holiday highway’, this is the umbilical cord to the North and is indeed a road of national significance.”
The project has been a priority for the MP, and was clearly identified by the Northland Economic Action Group (NEAG) through an economic summits process as the most important single piece of infrastructure for the growth of the Northland economy.
“Economists from the Northland Regional Council have estimated that $800 million per annum of the Northland economy drives out of the region on this road and of course tourists are increasingly driving north on it,” adds Mr Sabin. “This project will bring both enhanced productivity and safety as Northland’s economic engine gains further momentum.”
Lodgement of the application for the Puhoi to Warkworth section with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected by the end of August 2013 with notification of the application by EPA anticipated to occur late 2013.
There is a public submission period of four weeks upon notification, and a hearing is likely to be held early to mid-2014.
A draft decision followed by the final decision is required within nine months of original notification.