Stop delaying freight-critical EPA application: NRC
The National Road Carriers says it is critically important to freight operators that there is no further delay to the East-West Link project, in light of a request from Auckland Council to NZTA to delay an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) application.
The government declared the $1.8 billion East West Link a project of national significance and confirmed it should go through a streamlined consenting process in 2017 so construction can start as early as 2018, but Auckland Council’s planning committee is asking NZTA to delay lodging the consent application to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) until 2017 to allow further consideration of alternative design proposals.
National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken says NZTA undertook extensive and considered consultation over the past two years with the freight sector and other community groups on the East West Link project, and it is past time that the project moved on to the next stage.
Aitken says NZTA had engaged in extensive public consultation, including with local community groups in at least four public engagement sessions (June 2014, October 2014, June 2015 and November 2016).
“Experts can properly examine any alternative proposals at an EPA hearing,” says Aitken.
“There is a lot at stake for the freight sector. Based on an average 10-minute delay per trip currently on local roads, congestion is costing transportation operators a conservative $50 million a year,” he says.
“The heavy congestion is compromising the efficiency of daily inter-provincial road freight services that originate and terminate in this area of Auckland,” says Aitken.
Assuming a minimum saving of 10 minutes a trip on the new road and which should be much more, it will generate great efficiencies for businesses and benefits to productivity.
National Road Carriers is keen to ensure that the East West Link outcome eliminates freight traffic conflicts with residents.
“We will be continuing to keep a close eye on the project’s progress, and in particular to ensure the design of the new route was freight-friendly – safe and efficient,” says Aitken.