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Information Centre keeps you up to date with the latest infrastructure developments in New Zealand

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  • 08 Jun 2017 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    "New Zealand can make best use of the Government's $32 billion infrastructure commitment over the next four years by streamlining plans and institutions, including specialist procurement, environment and water regulation agencies and a top down national spatial planning framework," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.   

    The findings are set out in an Infrastructure NZ report released today which follows a delegation to Scotland in March this year.

    "Over the last two decades, the Scottish have completely transformed infrastructure planning, funding and delivery. 

    "They've established innovative and effective institutions at the national level which support and guide central and local government infrastructure delivery. 

    "The UK National Infrastructure Commission, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Water are all bodies which could be employed here to rationalise and improve infrastructure planning, funding and delivery.

    "Initiatives based on Scotland’s National Planning Framework and hub, City Deal, tax increment financing and Growth Accelerator programmes would each help align central and local decision making and enhance collaboration with the private sector.

    "The Scottish system is simpler, more transparent and reduces conflicts of interest across the public sector. 

    "The extensive infrastructure investment that New Zealand is planning over the coming years will need to be well-managed if we are to tackle the growth challenge. The best elements of Scotland's decision making system are worth replicating," Selwood says.  

     The key findings for New Zealand set out in the report are:

    • We could improve public understanding of infrastructure challenges and better support national investment by establishing an empowered national body charged with identifying infrastructure needs.
    • Scotland's plan-led approach gives greater certainty and better balances strategic priorities with local interests than New Zealand's effects-based RMA system.
    • We could save money and improve infrastructure performance by establishing an independent centre of expertise for project procurement, integration and public private partnerships.
    • A specialist central agency could work in partnership with local government to consolidate procurement and provide immediate and substantial benefits for water and tourism infrastructure.
    • Public and environmental health could both be improved across New Zealand by consolidating wastewater and water supply delivery at a regional level.
    • Auckland’s Watercare could be sold to fund Auckland growth with minimal impact on the cost of services and improved strategic capability.
    • Dedicated independent regulators are more informed and take an outcomes-focused strategic view of the sector which results in better services.
    • Local government can be incentivised to align investment priorities with national outcomes by using the UK City Deal approach.

     A full copy of the report can be accessed here.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 07 Jun 2017 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE

    "Infrastructure New Zealand welcomes today’s announcement that the Government and Auckland Council will investigate road pricing, but is concerned that the Terms of Reference over-emphasise demand management and do not recognise the constraints current funding is placing on both near and longer term investment," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure NZ.

    "Mobility is central to social and economic well-being. Imposing prices at a level which makes travel prohibitive should not be the goal.

    "We need to find an appropriate balance between raising the revenue necessary for investment whilst also managing demand more effectively across the transport system.

    "Prices should be set at a level that encourages people to think about travelling at a different time, in a different way or in another mode rather than at a level which is not affordable and where mobility is suppressed.

    "Organisations including business and community groups, the AA and public transport associations are all integral to winning support for change.

    "We strongly recommend that the governing parties undertake a very proactive engagement process to ensure support.

    "While a fair and robust pricing system is developed for New Zealand over the medium term, a near-term solution to Auckland’s funding challenge must be identified.

    "The easiest way to implement pricing in the short term would be tolls on the motorway. Using existing technology and priced dynamically, motorway tolls would balance demand and provide a stepping stone to full road pricing," Selwood says.


  • 18 May 2017 1:44 PM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    "Infrastructure New Zealand welcomes new Government support for economically and environmentally sound irrigation proposals, but equity investment is preferable over debt funding to maximise public benefit," says chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand Stephen Selwood.

    The Government today announced $90 million of new funding for irrigation would be included in Budget 2017, including additional grant funding of $27 million and a capital boost of $63 million.

    "Dependable water supply has a major impact on agricultural productivity, incomes and, in turn, the sustainability of New Zealand’s rural sector. Communities with poor access to employment, declining school rolls and population decline can be reinvigorated and all of New Zealand shares in the benefit of new investment and stronger exports.

    "The obvious limitation is assurance that additional water supply and related land use change does not lead to net environmental degradation.

    "Where robust environmental analysis demonstrates irrigation can be provided within the limits of the receiving area, it is critical that other hurdles are reduced.

    "Uncertainty about when and to what degree farmers will take up water contracts increases investor risk, raising the cost of irrigation schemes and making water more expensive. This has the reinforcing effect of disincentivising farmer uptake and delaying further investment which otherwise will deliver a sustained economic and social benefit to New Zealand.

    "It is in such instances that Government intervention is essential.

    "Where the Government acts solely as a lender of last resort, it does not solve the problem at the heart of irrigation. Loaned money must be paid back at an agreed rate on agreed terms, meaning the risk of water uptake remains with investors and projects struggle to move forward.

    "Where the Government acts as a co-investor to get projects over the line and realise public benefits, as it has done with the immensely successful Ultra-fast Broadband initiative, very positive outcomes can been achieved.

    "In irrigation, the Government has an opportunity to invest capital in proportion both to its commercial risk exposure and the wider social and economic benefit to communities.

    "If today’s announcement signals that the Government is ready not only to lend but to invest in a stronger rural economy, then it is very welcome," Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 16 May 2017 1:49 PM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    Step change in infrastructure needed to support new housing

    "News that the Government will build 34,500 new homes in Auckland over the next decade is to be applauded, but a step change in infrastructure funding and investment will be required to ensure Auckland networks can accommodate this growth," says Stephen Selwood chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    "Auckland is in immediate need of housing and today’s announcement is a serious commitment to addressing prolonged under supply. Last year only around 7,000 homes were built in the region, so an extra 3,500 per annum over the next decade is substantial.

    "The construction of 13,500 social housing units where 8,300 currently stand represents a major increase in housing for those in chronic need. The other 20,000 the Government intends to build will be targeted at the more affordable end of the spectrum, which has for many years been under-supplied.

    "This is very good news, but Auckland’s infrastructure networks cannot accommodate this development by continuing business as usual.

    "A 34,500 home development is a city of 100,000 people – that’s somewhere between a Palmerston North and a Dunedin. A vast service network underpins this much housing; Palmerston North City alone has over 550km of roads, 1,000km of water pipes and 30 schools.

    "The Government estimates that 34,500 homes is equivalent to three and a half houses on every street in Auckland. Typically, that means an additional seven cars in every street. Already Auckland’s transport networks are bursting at the seams and all projections are that congestion will get much worse.

    "The Government earlier this month signalled it was going to come to the party with an $11 billion commitment to infrastructure through Budget 2017, but it is still not clear how the Auckland Council will meet its growth obligations.

    "A 2015 study by the Centre for International Economics on the cost of residential infrastructure estimated that a new home built on redeveloped land costs the Auckland Council on average $30,000. This figure excludes big city-shaping investments like the City Rail Link.

    "The Government’s announcement today adds a $1 billion bill to a council which is already at the limit of what it can borrow. If new development triggers the need for regional scale infrastructure like light rail or a new busway, the cost to the Auckland Council will easily be two, three or four times this figure.

    "The city really is at a critical juncture. Infrastructure is urgently needed to address the backlog and accommodate new growth.

    "Obvious steps to addressing this challenge are:

    • Prioritise housing development next to train and busway stations
    • Invest in traffic light optimisation and intelligent traffic management systems
    • Rapidly develop park and ride facilities
    • Streamline planning consents for power, water, telecommunications and social infrastructure that support the developments
    • Recycle capital tied up in existing assets into new infrastructure
    • Enable urban development agencies to rezone, acquire and aggregate land and use the increased value to fund infrastructure
    • Expand private investment in infrastructure through PPPs and large scale development opportunities
    • Introduce road pricing sooner rather than later to both manage demand and generate revenue to pay for transport infrastructure

    "It’s great to see the Government enabling housing development at scale but parallel development of infrastructure to support all of the new houses will be key to success," Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 27 Apr 2017 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    Government's $11 billion infrastructure commitment a big step forward

    "The announcement that Budget 2017 will allocate a further $11 billion in new capital infrastructure is very welcome. It will be essential that this new funding unlocks local and private capital to accelerate much needed infrastructure investment," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    "The Government’s announcement today increases planned new capital investment to 2020 from $3.6 billion to $11 billion, but leaves details of project priorities till the May Budget.

    "This is a massive increase and the largest capital investment commitment by any Government since the 1970s.

    "But it must be said that New Zealand’s growth challenge is the highest it has ever been and meeting population demands requires the services for a city larger than Nelson to be added every year.

    "Added to the growth challenge is New Zealand’s historic under-investment in infrastructure. The reality is that it would not be difficult to spend $11 billion in 2017 alone.

    "The Government’s commitment to the Kaikoura rebuild, along with its $1.5 billion contribution to the CRL, a further $1.5 billion in the East-West link, a billion more on each of Mill Rd, the northern busway extension and the northwestern busway, $400 million on Penlink, plus state highway improvements in the regions is enough to consume all $11 billion, let alone much needed investment in health, education and housing nationwide.

    "To get full value out of national resources, the Government is going to need to use its funding to unlock private investment.

    "A shift to debt funding strategic projects represents good fiscal management and in this regard it is pleasing to see the Government looking further at public-private partnerships.

    "ACC, NZ Super, iwi and domestic and international institutions are looking to invest in New Zealand’s infrastructure and it makes sense to accelerate projects which meet demand for housing and services.

    "In addition, the Government has already demonstrated the value of capital recycling, via the partial sale of the energy generation companies in particular, and a similar strategy could be adopted by Auckland, Christchurch and other councils to bridge the infrastructure funding backlog.

    "Priority should also be given to projects where developers and land owners who benefit from land value increases contribute to infrastructure investments. 

    "The combination of public and private capital is central to delivering the infrastructure needed to support New Zealand's growth," Selwood says. 


    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 05 Apr 2017 1:08 PM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    Case for change to build New Zealand’s prosperity

    The need for a cohesive strategy to drive reform of the country’s resource management and planning systems is now vital for New Zealand’s prosperity, says a coalition of like-minded organisations.

    For some time the EMA, Property Council New Zealand, Infrastructure New Zealand and the Environmental Defence Society have been working together to build a case for change on how to provide for the nation’s growth and development within acceptable environmental limits.

    The Productivity Commission’s report on urban planning has made a very useful contribution to the developing debate on these issues. While it addressed concerns around the Resource Management Act, and the challenges faced by towns and cities, its terms of reference were narrow.

    The coalition of these organisations say a sound basis for reform has now been established and there is emerging interest amongst politicians for a long-term examination of the way we should manage the environment and development.

    Now it is time for national leadership on this issue. The coalition recognises there is no quick fix as the problem is complex, system wide and embraces many interests.

    As well as improving the core law, the coalition is looking for an improved framework to address the related components of planning, funding, governance, monitoring and enforcement.

    The way forward needs to have cross-party support, be independent, have integrity and deliver a result which can meet the needs of New Zealand now and in the future. The process to deliver this could be something along the lines of a Royal Commission, or an inquiry of a similar nature.

    “The frustrations of the business community with the current system are well documented. Which is why over the past year or so, we have diligently worked to broaden the debate. I think as a nation, we are ready to have this debate, and work towards an evidence-based solution that will address these concerns,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.

    “We have clearly identified the issue, and laid the groundwork for change. The next step is have a process which will enable the design of a fully integrated planning, funding and delivery system,” says Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    “There is clear evidence that the current system is not producing good environmental outcomes. By working together as a group, we can ensure that before rushing to our favourite solutions we focus instead on creating an inclusive framework within which to develop the new way forward for our country,” says Gary Taylor, CEO, Environmental Defence Society.

    “We need to stop tinkering with the RMA and undertake bold forward thinking changes to the whole planning system. We cannot let our 21st century cities be held back by outdated 20th century thinking,” says Connal Townsend, Chief Executive, Property Council New Zealand.

    ENDS

    Media inquiries to:
    Val Hayes, External Relations Manager, EMA 021 615 549


  • 29 Mar 2017 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    Productivity Commission report demonstrates need for a Royal Commission

    "The Productivity Commission report released today identifies many of the key issues confronting urban development in New Zealand, but its recommendations fail to align planning, local government decision making powers and funding", says Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    "The Commission recommends regions develop spatial strategies while districts make funding and investment decisions. This is little changed from the current process where regions develop policy statements and districts fund growth. It also replicates failed planning practices under the old Auckland governance regime.

    "As long as the responsibilities for planning are separated from responsibilities to fund and deliver plans, implementation will be subject to the vagaries of local, fragmented politics, not the needs of the region.

    "Much more fundamental change is required to enable effective urban development and regional growth. We need a system where national, regional and local plans are aligned. Regions must be able to plan for growth, have the necessary funding to enable timely investments and be able to work effectively with central government, business, iwi and local communities.

    "A key part of the problem today is that districts are under resourced and don’t have the funding, capacity or incentives to go for growth. Fragmented decision making, and the sheer number of councils involved makes it even more difficult.

    "Although the Commission identifies these as issues, it does not propose a fully developed set of recommendations to address them. Councils, for example, already have the ability to use different rating systems to better capture value improvement. The fact that they by and large do not suggests other factors are at play. Little in the report gives confidence that these factors will be addressed. 

    "Traditionally, discussions of local government structure and funding have failed, which may explain why the Commission has not addressed these controversial issues.

    "Fundamental reforms of this significance require a national discourse along with community and organisational input, in depth evidential-based research and objective evaluation.

    "While the Commission has made a useful contribution, a Royal Commission into planning laws, local government structure and funding would be an appropriate next step to designing a fully integrated planning, funding and delivery system", says Selwood.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


  • 14 Feb 2017 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    media release

    Breakthrough in infrastructure and urban development announced

    "The announcement that urban development authority legislation will be fast tracked and the identification of an indicative route for the Warkworth to Wellsford motorway are major steps forward for infrastructure and growth," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    "Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith has proposed legislation to fast track the redevelopment and regeneration of urban areas to better meet housing and commercial needs.

    "This will potentially enable authorities to aggregate land, roll out infrastructure and interface with private developers and contractors to lift housing supply at a scale which could be transformational.

    "Traditional development is clearly inadequate to keep pace with growth. This has resulted in new housing without coordinated infrastructure.

    "Some of the key advantages of an urban development agency are the ability to aggregate land at scale, master plan development, integrate infrastructure, and promote opportunities for private investment.

    "Added to this news is the announcement of the indicative alignment for the 26 km four-lane Warkworth-Wellsford motorway. This will create a seamless connection from Cambridge south of Hamilton to the southern boundary of Northland.

    "The long-throttled economic potential of our northern most region will be unlocked by a reliable, resilient, faster and safer corridor to the major markets and ports of New Zealand.

    "Current timelines would see a confirmed route progressed to the designation and resource consenting phase as early as this year, meaning major regulatory barriers could be overcome by 2018. This would allow a construction start from that point forward, although funding is yet to be confirmed and there are no set timeframes for shovels in the ground.

    "It’s very encouraging to see the Transport Agency approaching the Wellsford motorway as a component of a much grander vision for Northland’s integration into the New Zealand economy.

    "A priority now will be working out ways to connect Northland sooner and getting empowered urban development agencies to work in our high growth cities," Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information or comment, please contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209
  • 14 Feb 2017 2:09 PM | Anonymous

    Infrastructure NZ Chief Executive Stephen Selwood wrote a feature for Local Government Magazine's Perspectives 2017 issue.

    In this column last year, I wrote that the requirements being placed on local government to protect the environment, grow the economy, deliver local services and keep rates down were incompatible. I called for a Royal Commission into the activities, resourcing and structures of local government to sort out the problem. This year, I’m going to review what’s happened in the space to underline why such an inquiry is urgently needed.

    Download the full article here



  • 25 Nov 2016 1:40 PM | Anonymous

    "Responding to Auckland’s growth challenge and fixing planning legislation and local government funding and structures are the top infrastructure priorities for New Zealand in 2017," said Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

    The priorities were confirmed last night at Infrastructure New Zealand’s Annual General Meeting in Auckland.

    "Congestion in Auckland is disproportionate to the city’s size and is rapidly deteriorating. Of greatest concern, travel times along the State Highway 1 motorway corridor have increased by 30 per cent in just the last three years and are projected to get much worse.

    "Earlier this year Infrastructure New Zealand produced a video of the already unacceptable state of congestion, which can be accessed here.

    "Major works underway on the Central Rail Link and motorways must continue at pace and the next tranche of projects to deal with 50,000 more people per annum brought to market.

    "Chief among these is the East West Link.

    "The Onehunga Penrose manufacturing and industrial zone employs approximately 68,000 people and contributes $4.6 billion a year to New Zealand’s economy, but the current transport connections into and through the area are either incomplete or highly congested.

    "The East West Link is essential to enabling movement between state highways 1 and 20 and fixing congested access into and out of Auckland’s premier industrial zone.

    "When the Waterview Connection comes on early next year, it will be vital for resilience and efficiency of the network that traffic can move between the two key corridors as easily as possible.

    "But we mustn’t forget that efforts to deliver on Auckland’s transport priorities can only be successful if we have an aligned growth plan which focuses development in areas where the transport system can accommodate it.

    "Guest speaker Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore highlighted the financial constraints facing the city and how these are impacting the ability to fund the transport investment needed to support Auckland’s growth.

    "Infrastructure New Zealand favours capturing value created by public investment in infrastructure and putting tolling in place to both raise funds and manage demand. These are among options that need to be explored sooner rather than later.

    "Beyond Auckland, fragmented and unnecessarily complex governance structures, complicated and disintegrated planning laws and insufficient funding are frustrating local government’s ability to deliver the infrastructure needed to support regional development and growth.

    "A freshly elected parliament in 2017 provides an opportunity to undertake a first principles review of our infrastructure and local government, planning, governance and funding arrangements nationwide.

    "What’s needed is a fully integrated planning, governance, funding, regulation, delivery, and resource management system that is much more responsive to change and that will drive regional social and economic development, improve environmental outcomes and strengthen local democracy and community engagement.

    "This will require much more than constant tinkering with existing legislative, governance and funding systems.

    "A first principles review of our governance, funding and institutional structures should be a priority for the newly elected government in 2017," Selwood says.

    ENDS

    For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209


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