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June 29, 2021

Legal challenge to Mill Road project

In line with recent developments overseas, the New Zealand Courts are seeing an increasing number of climate cases.

In March 2021 All Aboard Aotearoa Inc, a coalition of environmental and transport organisations, sought judicial review of decisions by the Government and Waka Kotahi NZTA to fund and build Mill Road, a major highway expansion project in South Auckland.  The claim alleged the decisions had been made without regard to a range of climate-related considerations, including New Zealand’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Paris Agreement), the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 (the Zero Carbon Act), and recent declarations of a climate emergency by the Government and Auckland Council. 

On 4 June 2021 the Mill Road project was dropped after estimated costs more than doubled.  Transport Minister Michael Wood explained the decision by highlighting “the need to decarbonise our transport system”.  He said, “if we had proceeded with Mill Road as originally scoped, it would have cost up to $3.5 billion and at peak produced six tonnes of CO2 emissions a day”.  The judicial review application has been discontinued following the project’s cancellation.

LeeSalmonLong acted for the applicant in the proceeding.