The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission released the draft of its 243-page infrastructure strategy last month, with industry leaders saying such a plan is “long overdue”
Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock welcomes the Draft New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy, saying it provides vital vision and direction for the country’s infrastructure networks, framing challenges and solutions in a way that was ‘long overdue’.
“It seems a glaring omission for the country to have gone so long without an overarching strategy for something as important as infrastructure. Once finalised, this strategy will inform the national approach and give industry and government more clarity on the work ahead.”
Silcock says the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy maps out the challenges the country faces in terms of infrastructure construction and provision, and also recommends actions on key issues such as cost escalation, climate change and ongoing maintenance.
He says it would be interesting to see government’s response to the 67 recommendations provided in the strategy, which include improving water infrastructure pricing and provision, clearer long-term funding intentions and a clear national direction for waste management.
The strategy includes estimates of the cost required to meet New Zealand’s infrastructure needs if the country was to ‘build itself out’ of trouble at around 9.6 per cent of GDP over a 30-year period, up from 5.5 per cent of GDP.
Despite this, it stops short of recommending a major build programme straight away, suggesting a clear direction and systematic change to better pay for transport and water infrastructure was needed to sustain the levels of infrastructure construction required over the coming decades.
Infrastructure New Zealand General Manager Claire Edmondson says there is plenty for the infrastructure sector to like.
“We need a strategy, and it’s good to have a 30-year plan out there. It sets out a vision, but also highlights challenges showing we need to improve our system for planning and building infrastructure, and also make better use of what we already have. This is a really good start,” Edmondson says.
“Most of the 67 recommendations address known issues, and work on some is already underway, including resource management reform, emissions reduction and a national digital strategy.
“It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that we need to ensure the resource management system doesn’t unnecessarily increase project costs, efficiency and smarter ways of getting things done.
“We’ve been asking for reforms to the Resource Management Act and the recommendation to ensure that the Natural and Built Environments Act ‘gives effect’ to existing requirements for the Crown to deliver infrastructure is an added extra.
“The sector will be particularly thrilled at the recommendation of an independent Infrastructure Priority List to build consensus around key projects and initiatives that address significant long-term problems. This will enable the sector to ensure it has the appropriate resources and supply chain to compete for and deliver this work,” Edmondson says.
“The sector will also be pleased with the recommendation for a national infrastructure skills plan to ensure we have the right people with the right skills to develop our infrastructure in the medium to long-term.
“These are the sorts of things that provide the certainty needed for the sector to get on with the job of making New Zealand a better place for us all. We just need the Government to take them on board and implement them in a timely way,” Edmondson says.
- Strengthen partnerships with Māori across the infrastructure system of Aotearoa New Zealand.
- Develop capability and capacity across the infrastructure system for effective partnership with Māori.
- Strengthen the Māori infrastructure evidence base.
- Minimise lock-in of future emissions.
- Achieve net-zero carbon emissions at minimum cost.
- Speed the build of low emissions energy infrastructure to leverage our abundant resources.
- Ensure a fair, inclusive and equitable transition to a low emissions economy.
- Improve efficiency and security of freight and the national supply chain.
- Reduce barriers and costs of providing infrastructure services.
- Reduce population uncertainties for infrastructure demand, planning and delivery.
- Prepare for zero-emissions commercial electric flights.
- Improve water infrastructure pricing and provision in cities.
- Reduce pressure on water infrastructure through better water management and conservation.
- Amalgamation of local government where appropriate, to improve coordination of infrastructure and planning outcomes in high growth urban areas.
- Increase supply and use of low emissions transport modes.
- Reduce costs by optimising infrastructure corridors.
- Optimise the use of urban land.
- Optimise transport investment by considering non-built transport solutions first.
- Improve the efficiency and consistency of urban planning by standardising planning rulebooks.
- Improve delivery of transit-oriented development (TOD).
- Improve efficiency and outcomes of infrastructure through spatial planning
- Reduce congestion and improve urban mobility.
- Target transport investment to areas of highest need using signals from congestion pricing.
- Improve spatial planning through better information on infrastructure capacity and costs to service growth.
- Increase housing development opportunities in areas with good access to infrastructure.
- Increase the resilience of critical infrastructure.
- Improve infrastructure risk management by making better information available.
- Prepare infrastructure for the impacts of Climate Change.
- Support the security of supply of essential materials to build, renew and maintain infrastructure.
- Establish a clear national direction for circularity in waste management.
- Prioritise options that minimise waste from entering the market to avoid unnecessary infrastructure costs.
- Improve recycling infrastructure for priority materials.
- Use behavioural interventions to address barriers to recycling, reduce waste and avoid contamination.
- Reduce landfill emissions resulting from organic waste.
- Develop uses for recycled materials in infrastructure.
- Clarify the strategic role of waste-to-energy.
- Improve waste sector data and insight.
- Encourage public infrastructure waste minimisation.
- Improve decision making.
- Improve funding and financing.
- Improve planning and consenting.
- Increase technology use.
- Build workforce capacity and capability.
While a draft, the strategy sets out a proposed direction based on research and consultation. The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga is now awaiting feedback from the Minister and will consider this before refining the strategy for release early next year. Once finalised, government will respond to recommendations and advice in the strategy.
The Draft New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy is currently with the Minister for Infrastructure awaiting feedback and will be finalised in early 2022.