A Board of Inquiry has approved a resource consent for the controversial Kapiti Expressway in a draft decision just released.
The board’s decision on the NZ Transport Agency’s application for a $630 million expressway between McKays Crossing and Peka Peka will now be sent to affected parties for comment on minor or technical aspects before a final decision is made in mid-April.
The agency’s Wellington manager Rod James says that if consent is finally granted, construction of the expressway could begin in July this year, with an opening planned for 2017.
Opponents will still be able to challenge the final decision through the High Court, but only on points of law.
The draft decision contains about 97 conditions.
It comes after a Board of Inquiry hearing from November to January. About 740 submissions were received and more than 200 people presented evidence in person.
Anti-expressway lobby group Save Kapiti has calculated that more than 1300 homes will be within 200 metres of the road.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee welcomed the draft decision.
“This is a significant milestone towards the progression of this nationally significant road, which will provide a much safer, efficient and more resilient transport route north of Wellington,”he says.
”April’s decision will provide welcome certainty for the people of Kapiti and the thousands of road users who rely on this busy highway lifeline.”
Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter says the board’s ”rubber-stamp” does not alter the fact that building the expressway will be an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money.
She says: “The Kapiti Expressway has a benefit/cost ratio of just 0.2 – that means for every dollar spent, we get just 20 cents of value — what a waste of money.”