RM Journal

The devil in the details: planning provisions and their importance for infrastructure


Authors: Daniel Minhinnick, Partner, Russell McVeagh and Alice Gilbert, Solicitor, Russell McVeagh

Recent case law has emphasised the importance that specific wording of planning provisions has for delivering infrastructure projects.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc v New Zealand Transport Agency [2021] NZHC 390 and Tauranga Environmental Protection Society v Tauranga City Council [2021] NZHC 1201 are both recent cases from the High Court that deal with plan interpretation and environmental bottom lines in the context of consenting large infrastructure projects (respectively, for roading and transmission lines in these cases).

While both are based on different planning frameworks, the contrasting outcomes illustrate the challenges to obtain consent for major infrastructure and reinforces the need for careful crafting of planning provisions – the devil in the detail really does matter.

This case note will explore the two cases and highlight some of the key issues that should be considered for infrastructure projects or plan review processes.

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