The Government welcomes the approval for the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-one section of Te Ara Tupua, the walking and cycling link between Wellington and Lower Hutt.
The 4.5-kilometre long, five-metre wide shared path will run along Wellington Harbour’s coastal edge, away from State Highway 2 traffic, making it safer and easier for people to walk or cycle between Wellington and Lower Hutt.
Environment Minister David Parker said this was the first transport project approved by an Expert Consenting Panel under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act 2020, which was designed to accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“This project will create jobs and boost our economic recovery while maintaining a strong environmental focus. Care will be taken to preserve sensitive habitats and the addition of new offshore habitat areas will help address the effects of coastal construction,” David Parker said.
“It meets all the requirements under the fast-track consenting process to get people into jobs and support our economy, while upholding environmental standards and Treaty of Waitangi principles.”
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is partnering with mana whenua on the project to ensure that it will deliver the greatest possible benefit for the region.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the project will encourage more people to walk or cycle between Wellington and Lower Hutt and help make the region’s transport network more resilient.
“Right now, it’s not easy to walk or cycle between Wellington and Lower Hutt. By providing a safe, dedicated route for walkers and cyclists, it’s estimated there will be around 2,200 weekday cycle trips on the new path by 2030. This is more than three times the number of cycle trips made on SH2 today, plus up to 600 people walking, running or using things like e-scooters.
“The seaside path will also help protect the road and rail line from storms and act as an alternative route if a disaster blocks them,” Michael Wood said.
Subject to approval of implementation funding, Waka Kotahi expects construction to start later this year.
The approval was granted by an Expert Consenting Panel chaired by Barrister Alan Webb. The decision took 68 working days from the time the application was lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). That is significantly faster than the time it takes for a similar consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 consenting process.
More information about the Te Ara Tupua decision is on the EPA website. More information about applications for fast-tracking through the Order in Council process is on the Ministry for the Environment website.