Debate heats up over Government's fast-track consent scheme 

The Government has announced a new one-stop shop will fast-track consents for major infrastructure projects.   

But critics are worried the new process places significant power in the hands of three ministers.  

They brought a giant glass of cow effluent to Parliament but Greenpeace isn't toasting to the Government's plans to fast-track consents.   

"We have brought the pollution problem here to Parliament because they are about to make it worse with this fast-track consenting Bill," said Gen Toop, a Greenpeace spokesperson.    

Forest and Bird is also worried it'll mean some pristine areas could be transformed into infrastructure sites.   

But Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said: "We want more roads, we want more windfarms, we want more homes, more solar, more geothermal, more mines, more commerc  and more opportunity for New Zealanders to get building."   

The Government on Thursday unveiled how it plans to cut consent times for projects of national and regional significance. It's so New Zealand can "move from cancel economics to can-do economics", said Regional Development Minister Shane Jones.   

There are two paths under the new system.    

One allows the ministers to receive an application for a project, get thoughts on it from the likes of iwi and councils, consider if it's worthy of being fast tracked and then send it off to an expert panel.   

The second will see an advisory group take a look at nominated projects and recommend to ministers which projects should be considered. Cabinet will have the final say, though not all projects will go straight to the expert panel.   

This expert panel then has six months to consult with certain groups and put conditions on the project, potentially including how to deal with environmental impacts. Then it goes back to the ministers for the final greenlight.   

If the ministers think the conditions are too onerous, they can send it back to the panel.   

Asked if that placed too much power in the hands of three ministers, Luxon said: "No, we are determined in this country to get things going."   

Luxon said there are processes in place to deal with any conflicts of interest.   

"I have every confidence we do need ministerial decision-making to cut through and make it a hard yes or hard no." 

But there is opposition.    

"It will make New Zealand into a banana republic really. The decisions will be made by ministers, we don't know who the ministers will be talking to," said Labour MP Rachel Brooking.   

"Muldoon is back frankly. This is a disaster for the environment," said Greens co-leader James Shaw.   

There's also no requirement decision-makers hold a hearing for the wider public.   

"We do seem to be flying in the face of many years of planning laws allowing more and more public involvement," said Caroline Miller, a planning scholar.    

With the legislation now introduced, the public debate over this is just heating up.