What are the consenting adults doing?


What is reported to be one of the most dangerous stretches of road in NZ (one section of it has the highest deaths/km of any road in the country)  is being kicked around various bodies with every group involved appearing to blame the next group for the delays.  The road in question is SH2, specifically the section from Omokoroa to Tauranga.  But the location and the exact details of this scrap is not the focus of this post.

“Consents” is.

Adam Francis from the NZ Transport Agency said four-laning Omokoroa to Te Puna would not happen overnight. The two- to three-year process to get all the consents started at the end of last year.  (NZHerald)

Really?

If there is a road where the number of deaths and injuries is way above the average and the land is there to provide a safe alternative then get on with it.  Issues like the road being promised by 1995 and “will definitely be done by 2015” etc are side issues. Pertinent, but still side issues.

Why does it take two to three years for a Government Department to get consents? The land along this road that the NZTA needs to acquire is ex-farm or ex-orchard so is probably not the last known habitat of the three-toed snail; just start up the bulldozers.

Ditto concerns about offending the nearest Taniwha. What is more important, human lives or hurty feelings of a non-existent animist invention? Bring in the diggers.

And, who is NZTA getting consents from?

The owners of the land? Isn’t that what the Public Works Act is for?

The Local Authority to rezone land?

The Regional Council to ensure that silt from the earthworks doesn’t enter the harbour?

I don’t know the answers, but I thought the chain of command started at the top and worked down: Government  > Regional Council > Local Authority > Land owners.

Why do we need all these consenting adults justifying their spot at a desk by being jobsworths holding up progress?

Surely, by now, there are agreed best practices on how to build a road and minimise the impact on nearby rivers and harbours etc?  Why seek and get a new consent repeating the same boilerplate text every time?

Here is another wonderful local example of consenting adults gone mad:

A walkway/cycleway was to be improved. It crossed a small drain, so before the Local Authority could replace the narrow “bridge” over this tiny drain with one that had handrails and was wide enough for a mobility scooter, a consent was required from the Regional Council. The project was started in July 2015 and the consent for this massive 3.5m long piece of magnificent engineering across this dribble of a drain was finally granted in February 2017.

19 months for one Local Authority to grant a consent to another Local Authority to replace an unsafe structure with the bridge pictured above. Utter madness.

But back to the road …

The NZ Transport Agency’s director of regional relationships, Parekawhia McLean, said the Minister of Transport was developing the Government Policy Statement on land transport and had indicated it would provide a different emphasis for the transport system.

NZTA can’t do anything until the Minister says so.

“We can’t pre-empt what will be in the new [policy statement] or give further detail about specific transport projects, including State Highway 2 Waihi to Tauranga, until [it] is released.

“We understand the concerns about State Highway 2 and we are committed to working closely with communities, key stakeholders and the Government to deliver solutions that meet transport needs now and into the future.”

Bureaucratic waffle.

McLean said roading projects had a process in place that needed to be followed to ensure landowners and other affected people have their say.

It has been on the books since at least 1995. How much say do the landowners need?

“Of course we also need to keep a close eye on how our organisation is functioning and how we are working with our partners to continually improve.”

The best way to keep a close eye on things is not to have one’s head somewhere the sun don’t shine.

However, McLean said improving the transport system was not a job the transport agency could do on its own.

“We’re committed to working with others – contractors, truckies, members of the public and local government – to make travel more reliable and safer.”

And all this having a conversation with others takes from 1995 and you still haven’t started?  Why?  Less hui, more dooey!

Transport Minister Phil Twyford told the Bay of Plenty Times the new Government Policy Statement on land transport would set a much higher priority on safety.

He said a draft of the policy statement was expected to be released for consultation later this month.

“However it’s important to note that the transport agency board makes all operational decision about the priority and timing of roading projects at arms’ length from the Government,” Twyford said. [NZHerald]

Minister Twyford says it is an NZTA decision but NZTA can’t make a decision until the Minister makes a policy statement which cannot direct the NZTA as it is at arm’s length from the Minister who is holding up the NZTA because they need to read his policy before making a decision. (My head hurts!)

And, if they ever break out of this n-dimensional infinite loop of political gobbledygook then and only then can they start applying for consents …

Why is reducing death and injury on a particular piece of road anything at all to do with the Minister, anyway?

Are the voting preferences of those killed and injured taken into account before work can begin? Surely this is simply an operational matter for NZTA.

If it needs fixing, fix it!

As a taxpayer, and therefore employer of NZTA staff, I hereby give consent.

 


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WH is a pale, stale, male who does not believe all the doom and gloom climate nonsense so enjoys generating CO2 that the plants need to grow by driving his MG.

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