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Cycleways across the country could become a little easier to build in future after the New Zealand Transport Agency was granted new powers by Environment Minister Nick Smith.
Dr Smith yesterday approved the NZTA's application for requiring authority status under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The approval gave the agency the ability to apply to councils to set aside land specifically for cycleways and shared paths, in the same way as it was already able to do for roads and motorways.
It would also be able to designate cycleway routes in future.
Dunedin City Council infrastructure and networks general manager Ruth Stokes said the change had the potential to aid future cycleway development in Dunedin, although not the plans already being developed for the central city or North Dunedin.
Those projects were not expected to involve private property, which was part of their benefit, she said.
An NZTA spokeswoman said the change would also not affect existing projects in Dunedin, but could help progress future ones.
Central city cycleway plans involved roading corridor, not private land, while the State Highway 88 shared path required easements over railway land, she said.
Dr Smith said the changes would make it quicker to construct, operate and maintain cycleways across the country, especially where they passed through different regions and land-use areas.
''The requiring authority status is especially crucial for urban cycleways, as they can require access over hundreds of individual properties.''
The change also showed the Government saw cycleways as ''critical modern infrastructure'', just like motorways, railways, transmission lines and telecommunications cables, he said.