Push the ‘go’ button on infrastructure plans

The EMA is joining the call for Government and councils to push ahead and fast-track critical infrastructure projects throughout the upper North Island.

“The Government included several major projects across our region in its recent $12 billion infrastructure announcements and with the massive impact of Covid-19, now would be a great time to get creative with legislative constraints and push ahead with these projects,” says EMA CEO Brett O’Riley, in a media release.

“Trialling a fast-tracked, co-operative process between local and central government like the Christchurch, Kaikoura and Viaduct Edge responses would be timely.”

He says that projects such as the Mill Rd extension in South Auckland, Penlink to the North of Auckland, the road corridor north out of Tauranga towards Katikati and the road south from Whangarei to Marsden Point could all be fast-tracked to provide a critical economic stimulus in those regions.

“It would also be great to see funding and support delivered quickly to those regional growth projects recently announced for Whakatane, Opotiki, Kawerau and the extension of Taupo airport,” he says.

O’Riley also recommended an immediate start to Auckland’s third main rail line and the rail improvements from Auckland to Whangarei.

“Both are scheduled to start fairly quickly anyway but efforts should be made to resource up and get them underway along with the electrification project on the rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe.”

“The EMA also understands a decision has been made on the location of the new floating dry dock. If that’s the case we’d urge the government to make the announcement rather than sit on it. Making those decisions and getting them out to the regions provides not just an economic boost, but a huge boost in confidence for those living, working or looking to invest in those regions.”

He also urged local councils throughout the region to look at ways they could assist businesses struggling to survive.

“We’re already see significant sized businesses closing in centres like Rotorua and others coming under extreme pressure. The government has already come to the party with tax relief measures and perhaps our local government counterparts could follow suit.”

O’Riley suggested measures such as withdrawing penalty payments on rates and fines, free parking in the central city areas at weekends to try and attract people back into the area and reductions or withdrawals of targeted taxes such as Auckland’s accommodation tax or the targeted central city rates.

“The accommodation sector is under real pressure, as are the food and beverage sectors. Measures like these would show support to these and other sectors and ease that pressure on our businesses.”

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