The cost of consenting infrastructure projects in New Zealand

The costs associated with getting a Resource Management Act (RMA) consent for infrastructure projects have grown significantly in recent years – both in time and money. These costs have a greater effect on smaller projects.

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, has just released research into the cost of consenting infrastructure projects, as part of its work to improve New Zealand’s infrastructure system.

The research found that consenting costs are 5.5% of the total costs of an average infrastructure project. However, for smaller projects – worth less than $200,000 – consenting averages 16% of a project’s costs. Typically, smaller projects are maintenance activities such as renewing water pipes, adding a new classroom to a school, upgrading cell towers or replacing a culvert under a road.

The proportionately higher spend on smaller projects is significant, as much of New Zealand’s infrastructure is small networks and sites that deliver critical services to communities. This also suggests that smaller communities and councils can be particularly impacted by accumulated, small project consenting costs.

Te Waihanga commissioned this research to help guide its input into a National Planning Framework, which is part of the new resource management system to replace the RMA. We have also drawn on this research in our work on the Draft New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy.

The cost of consenting infrastructure projects in New Zealand